Once extravagant, renewable power plans go cheap

Once extravagant, renewable power plans go cheap

Postby Oscar » Fri Mar 06, 2015 11:05 am

Once extravagant, renewable power plans go cheap

[ http://www.dallasnews.com/business/ener ... -cheap.ece ]

by JAMES OSBORNE Follow @osborneja josborne@dallasnews.com Staff Writer Published: 05 March 2015 08:31 PM Updated: 06 March 2015 08:54 AM

Hybrid cars, fruit grown without pesticides, clean coal plants — going green usually comes at a premium.

But not so with consumer electricity plans that promise energy exclusively from wind turbines and solar farms. As those renewables have proliferated in recent years, green plans have become readily affordable.

So much so that in Texas, the country’s largest wind energy producer, renewable energy plans count among the cheapest options available. In a review of the state-run website PowertoChoose.org, three of the 10 lowest-priced plans offered in Dallas this week were advertised as 100 percent renewable energy plans.

The abundance of electricity now flowing from wind farms in West Texas and the Panhandle has opened a new market. Power companies are competing against each other for customers who want to cut down their carbon footprint but won’t pay a premium to do so.

Diamond Gregg, a student at Brookhaven College in Farmers Branch, said she considers herself environmentally conscious. But she had stuck to standard power plans until talking to a sales rep with Green Mountain Energy at an on-campus technology fair earlier this year.

“I liked the idea. They showed me some figures, and evidently it’s going to save me some money,” she said.

While rates across the country have come down, green power plans still cost more in most states.

According to data compiled by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, power utilities charge from less than 1 cent to 4 cents per kilowatt-hour extra for a renewable electricity plan. For an average household, that could work out to as much as $40 a month.

But in deregulated markets, where rates are not set by government regulators and retailers compete for customers, going green may even save some customers money.

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