Switching to renewable energy is a great way to reduce your environmental impact. But what if your utility doesn’t offer a renewable energy option? There are still ways to source renewable energy even if your utility doesn’t provide it directly.
Understand Why Your Utility Doesn’t Offer Renewable Energy
Before exploring alternative options, it helps to understand why your utility isn’t offering renewable energy in the first place.
High Infrastructure Costs
Transitioning to renewable energy requires major infrastructure upgrades. Building large solar farms and wind turbines is expensive. Utilities need to recover these costs through customer rates. Some smaller utilities simply can’t afford the upfront investment.
Renewable sources like solar and wind generate power intermittently. The grid needs energy storage and transmission capacity to handle variable supply. Existing infrastructure may lack these capabilities.
Some utilities operate under rules that restrict renewable energy investments. State regulations can prohibit utilities from owning renewable generation assets. Policies differ across regions.
Lack of Incentives
Without financial incentives or mandates, utilities may be hesitant to adopt renewables. Transitioning requires taking on risk and uncertainty. Strong policy incentives can accelerate the shift.
Explore Behind-the-Meter Renewable Energy Options
If your utility hasn’t transitioned to renewables, you can still go green through behind-the-meter renewable energy assets:
Installing rooftop solar panels allows you to generate your own renewable electricity. Excess power can be exported back to the grid. This offsets your usage directly with clean energy.
- Costs vary based on system size, but rooftop solar has gotten much cheaper over the past decade. Check for state/federal tax credits and rebates to reduce upfront investment.
With community solar, you subscribe to a portion of a shared solar project. The energy produced is credited on your electricity bill. This allows households to access solar power without installing it on-site.
- Joining community solar often doesn’t require upfront costs. You just pay a monthly subscription fee based on your share of the project.
Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs)
RECs represent the environmental benefits of renewable electricity generation. Each REC equals 1 megawatt-hour of renewable energy.
- When you purchase RECs, you’re financially supporting renewable energy expansion. This indirectly offsets conventional power usage.
Direct Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs)
Large energy buyers can contract directly with renewable projects through PPAs. The developer sells power to the buyer at a negotiated rate.
- PPAs provide access to renewable energy at competitive prices. But the option is generally limited to large commercial customers.
Lobby Utilities and Regulators for Greener Grid Mixes
Beyond self-supplying renewables, you can advocate for broader change:
Write Letters and Submit Comments
Utilities and regulators decide what resources are added based on perceived customer demand. Writing letters and submitting public comments on proposed plans is an effective advocacy strategy. Demonstrate the customer desire for greener solutions.
Join Renewable Energy Advocacy Groups
Groups like the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) coordinate efforts to drive regulatory and policy changes through lobbying and education. Joining expands your impact.
Push for Pro-Renewables Legislation
Policies like renewable portfolio standards (RPS) mandate utilities to increase renewable sources over time. Get involved politically to support legislation that accelerates the energy transition in your area.
Switching to renewable energy often takes persistence and creativity. But between self-supply options and advocacy, you can usually find ways to green your consumption – even if direct utility offerings are limited. With the right strategy, it is possible to ditch conventional power generation and meaningfully reduce your carbon footprint.