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The Green Neighbor Challenge is a web tool and social media campaign to help anyone with a utility bill (including renters) find and sign up for green energy in the US. We also aim to help residents access energy saving incentives, learn about energy policy options, and find ways to get involved in grassroots environmental movements.
We are a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering communities and accelerating the transition to renewable energy. Learn more about us at https://greenneighborchallenge.com.
If you are in the US and you have an electric bill, you’re in! 73% of US households have access to green energy options through their utility company. If your utility doesn’t have a program, you can purchase Renewable Energy Credits through a trusted third party provider to certify your energy usage as Green! Simply enter your zip code in our green pricing finder to see your local options.
If you find inaccurate or missing information in our green pricing finder, please use our report function to let us know and we will correct it as quickly as possible! If your utility does not have a green pricing program, you have the option of buying third party RECs, which has a similar impact to a utility green pricing program. You will still need to pay your energy bill separately.
It’s impossible to tell the difference between renewable-generated energy and fossil-generated energy once the power is on the grid, so grid operators use “Renewable Energy Credits/Certificates” (RECs) to track certified green energy. Your utility can measure how much energy is put on the grid, in the same way it measures how much you take off.
When a unit of green energy is produced, a supplier receives a “Renewable Energy Credit/Certificate” or REC. When your utility buys your energy, they can also buy RECs to certify that it was green (or they can produce them). So when you buy green energy, your utility must “retire” RECs on your behalf. Every REC is unique and can be used only once.
According to EPA calculations, the average household would prevent 8.5 metric tons of CO2 emissions by switching from fossil-generated electricity to renewable. The actual one-to-one impact is more complicated to estimate, because usually RECs are purchased from green power suppliers that are already online, so they do not directly replace fossil-generated electricity.
However, buying RECs also increases demand for green energy, which causes more renewable generation to be built and added to the grid. Renewable sources like wind and solar generate electricity very cheaply, so as more renewables come online, inefficient coal plants are usually the first to operate less and begin to shut down, with immediate benefits to climate and local health. This means that the more people sign up for renewable energy, the bigger our impact will be. If just 2% of US households switch to green energy, it will stimulate demand for 18 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of renewable energy annually, avoiding the carbon emission equivalent of about 3.3 million cars, and saving a collective $968 million annually in avoided healthcare costs!
Right now, the average home on the average program would pay under $10 /month for 100% clean energy. That’s about $4/person and is often much less for folks in apartments. Use our green pricing finder and cost calculator to see what your household would pay for your local green pricing program.
The extra fees for green energy go toward program administration and REC purchases, which make sure that your energy is 100% certified renewable. However, some programs also offer a credit or refund for the cost of fuel saved by going green - and in some places, green energy has gotten so cheap that the credit is bigger than the fee. In these places, going green will actually save you money!
As renewables become cheaper and cheaper, we expect to see the cost of most programs continue to fall - or be discontinued as 100% green energy becomes the default. For now, households that can afford to go green are making an investment in clean air and a healthy future for everyone.
Yes. Community solar gardens are a great way for residents to save money and benefit from renewable energy generation, however we do not include these programs in our green pricing database because very few retain and retire Renewable Energy Credits on behalf of subscribers, and instead sell or forfeit them to utilities (depending on state policy).
The green pricing programs in our database allow customers to purchase green energy backed by RECs, which we believe have a greater impact on the energy market as a whole. Community solar subscribers are sometimes eligible to enroll in both types of programs, which may offset some or all of the savings, but will ensure you are contributing to both green energy supply and demand.
Some utilities offer shared solar programs similar to community solar, in which customers subscribe to a share of a solar development and receive a refund for the amount of energy generated by their solar share, but we do not include these either. In the future, we intend to create a tool specific to finding and understanding community/shared solar options which includes all the appropriate nuances.
Everyone except fossil fuel tycoons. We won’t pull punches. Renewable energy developers and competitive green utilities stand to gain. But so do communities and farmers who lease land in exchange for a reliable source of clean income.
Clean energy means clean jobs. No lung cancer or coal ash spills required.
Native prairies are being restored under solar panels, providing habitat to bees and butterflies that pollinate nearby farms, restoring soil health, and helping to recharge and purify our groundwater. Plus we all benefit from clean air, fewer doctor visits, and fewer climate disasters.
For information on how you can get involved in making the energy transition a just transition, check out the work of our fiscal sponsor, the Power Shift Network.
Signing up for green energy is just the beginning. You can increase your impact by sharing this tool on social media and challenging your friends and neighbors to go green too! Then head over to our State Letter Maker tool (under development) to learn about existing energy policies in your state and how you can be an advocate for change with your elected and appointed officials. Use our organization-finder tool (under development) to find grassroots groups near you and connect with the movement at a local level.
We are always working on adding more resources and tools to make it easier to take action and make change. Subscribe to our newsletter to stay updated on future opportunities and challenges, or donate to help support our continued work!
We each owe a debt to those who came before us, we aim to pay it forward.