So you want to buy green power

So you want to buy green power. You might want to live more sustainably. You might want to do your part to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions. Your small business might be undertaking a sustainability initiative to enhance your company’s value and market position. You might want to break free from the grid.

Whatever your reasons, you’re not alone. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory reports, “Individual, corporate, and institutional purchasing of renewable energy has expanded rapidly in recent years, increasing from 11.9 million megawatt hours in 2006 to 35.6 million megawatt hours in 2010.”

But how do you do it?

It’s not as easy as it should be. Whether you’re putting solar panels on your roof, buying renewable energy credits for your company, or looking for a “green” investment for part of your retirement portfolio, there are a lot of hoops to jump through – programs available in some states but not in others, arcane rules for participation, limited supply, lotteries, shady rooftops. It’s enough to make you want to give up and go with fossils.

But never fear, we’re here to help. In this 3-part series we will cover:

1. Options available in Nevada right now.
How do you get on NV Energy’s list for a rebate for rooftop solar? What about installing rooftop solar without a rebate? What is net metering and how does it work? What about NV Energy’s new optional green energy tariff? How does it compare with renewable energy credits you can buy from other companies? Do other electricity providers in Nevada – the rural electrical co-ops – have any renewable programs? What do you have to do to get off the grid entirely? And we won’t forget energy efficiency – the cheapest energy source there is.

2. Good ideas not available in Nevada
While Nevada’s doing pretty well with renewables, it lags in distributed generation – that is, in small renewable energy installations like rooftop solar. In some other states, neighborhood solar, cooperative solar ownership, and solar gardens allow co-owners to take part in net metering, incentive payments and tax deductions even if the project is not on their property. In this section we describe some of these programs and speculate about what it would take to get some of these options in Nevada.

3. Your investments: Investing in renewables and disinvesting from fossil fuels
It’s probably already abundantly clear to you that this website is not qualified to give investment advice, but just in case not, here’s the disclaimer: we will give no investment advice in this section. What we will do is cover two things: First, we’ll look at new opportunities in crowdfunding small scale renewable energy and second, we’ll review, reference, and provide links to a couple of publications from organizations that are qualified investment advisors on how and why to disinvest from fossil fuels.

We’ll post a section a week – or maybe every other week if the research takes a long time. We encourage you to get in touch by comment or email if you have questions, or topics you’d like us to cover.