If you have an electric bill there are three basic ways for you to get your electricity from renewable sources. The most popular is rooftop solar; virtually anyone with a sunny rooftop can install a system. The second is with a Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) program, if available in your area. The third is from your utility, if they offer a renewable electricity option.
Some people are passionate about clean, renewable power — but most people just want to save money. These three renewable power options require different up-front investments, and have different ongoing energy cost profiles. Rooftop solar requires a relatively big up-front investment, averaging about $15,000. But once you’ve made this investment your electricity cost is only about 7 cents per kwh, locked in for the lifespan of the equipment (typically 25 years). CCA programs strive to supply energy to residential and business customers at a slight discount to regular utility rates. They can provide this discount since they are not motivated to maximize their profits, and usually acquire power from new solar and wind facilities (which are less expensive than legacy utility power plants). Finally, many local energy utilities have an option for customers to buy renewable power, but they usually charge a premium for this power.
Often the selling price of electricity to customers bears little resemblance to its underlying costs. In my locale a homeowner can install a simple rooftop solar system for about 6 cents per kwh. The new CCA program offers renewable power at 1% less than the local utility. And our local energy utility offers renewable power for a slight premium. Listen up to this week’s Energy Show on Renewable Energy World so you can determine for yourself which renewable energy source best meets your needs.