• Switch to Wind Energy with No Windmill and No Hassle?! Sign Me Up!

    by  • December 19, 2012 • Eco-friendly, Featured • 6 Comments

    programmable thermostatLast Wednesday I had the pleasure of speaking about my vision for a net-zero homestead (more about that soon) at a ‘Make the Switch’ fundraiser for Green Energy Ohio. I expected to be a little nervous, speak too quickly, visit with like-minded folks, and enjoy Cafe Bella‘s fascinating small-space edible gardening. I didn’t expect to find out that people who want to support alternative energy can do so within their current AEP electric service. Even better, the switch usually saves money!

    The deal is that AEP offers customers a choice of providers. You are probably well aware of this if you are an AEP customer because these providers send mail constantly encouraging you to switch. Most of them are competing on price alone. A few providers are competing on values – they provide energy by wind instead of coal.

    I believe in renewable energy and was excited to know that our household can choose wind with no windmill on our property or difficulty beyond paying the regular electric bill.

    How can our electric be powered by wind? Of course the actual electrons coming into my house will likely still be generated by coal. But choosing 100% wind means that our provider (AEP Energy 100% Wind) buys green energy credits from a wind farm versus buying energy from a fossil fuel power plant. As more people choose 100% wind, more green energy credits will be purchased and the wind farms will grow. Enough demand will support building wind farms nearer to home and eventually the juice coming to our house will be from wind.

    The good folks at Go Sustainable! Energy brought this revelation to light. Greg, one of their green energy gurus, explains further:

    “In AEP-Ohio territory, you have four primary components of your bill: Generation, Transmission, Distribution, and Service charge. Due to de-regulation, when you switch your provider the only effect on your bill is that your generation and transmission charges are removed from the AEP-Ohio portion of the bill and are relocated to your new provider. If you do the calculations, which I have done a few hundred times in my career, the “price to compare” number on your bill is the combination of your generation and transmission charges, divided by the number if kWh you consumed that time period.  Thus, if you switch to someone providing renewables or someone providing coal, you just replace that number with the number that they’re offering.

    It’s a simple switch, and a powerful market signal to the utility providers that there are more customers who want to purchase all renewable energy, which in turn will cause more large wind farms to be built.”
    Most consumers who haven’t already made a choice for an alternative provider will save money by switching. Greg, quoted above, dropped his rate from 7.55 cents/kWh to all wind at 7.19 cents/kWh.
    Alas, our household was one of the very small percentage for whom switching to wind costs a little more. Our existing variable rate is 6.9 cents/kWh and the all wind rate is 7.19 cents/kWh. At our annual consumption, this increase will total around $30 for the year, a pittance to pay to support renewable energy.

    Want to switch or compare? Here’s what you do:

    1) Check out electric provider options on Apples to Apples via PUCO.

    2) Select your service provider, AEP for most Central Ohioans.

    3) Scroll through the choices. If it makes sense to you, choose 100% wind operated by Ohio AEP Energy.

    4) Fill out your name, address, and Service Delivery Identifier – listed on your bill under current charges.

    5) Select ‘I agree’ to terms and conditions, type your signature, and click ‘submit’. Easy peasy.

     I would love to see demand increase for non-polluting, non-fracking electric providers. Will you join me?

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    I live to eat and eat to live, planning every meal to include as much local and seasonal abundance as possible. My favorite color is purple, my favorite vegetable is whatever is fresh and local, and my favorite drink is whatever you're pouring. Follow me @racheltayse


    6 Responses to Switch to Wind Energy with No Windmill and No Hassle?! Sign Me Up!

    1. December 20, 2012 at 1:46 pm

      Oh wow. I was shocked to read this post, as you are usually so thorough in your research. Energy is very, very complicated, and to promote the idea that switching to renewables is as simple as clicking “100% wind” as an option from your electric provider is to perpetuate Americans’ continued naivete about how energy works. I know it’s hard for those of us who care about such things to wrap our heads around (it was for me) as we all want the solution to be simple, and all of us assume that wind energy is straightforward. But the truth is much more complicated. Even the tax credit scheme you promote in the post is problematic: right now global profiteers are roaming the planet, including Ohio, installing wind “farms” anywhere and everywhere they can, regardless of wind rating, safety, property rights or maximum efficiency — all to generate billions in profit from tax credits and subsidies. (And usually, the same farmers who advocate no-labeling for GMOs, use Monsanto products and participate in the subsidy system through industrial and chemical farming are the first ones to sign up for wind leases with foreign investors, no questions asked, which should tell you something.)

      The added frustration about all of this is that industrial wind doesn’t deliver energy as promised — the industry has huge technological problems in terms of storage and transmission and has not really evolved (in spite of the high tech look of the turbines) much beyond the era of the sailing ship, when we replaced wind power with steam power. As far as industrial turbines providing actual electricity, usually only 25% of the much touted “nameplate capacity” is realized, and even this 25% can ramp up fossil fuel usage as ever wind-generated kilowatt hour has to be backed up by conventional energy sources, which are actually reliable. That’s the reality. And these wind farms that you’re happy to support? While you may not have to have an industrial turbine “on your property” as you put it, or in your back yard, so to speak, someone else will, and why do you think it’s okay for me to have a 50-story industrial machine – or several of them – 1,000 feet from my farmhouse just so city-dwellers can feel good about themselves when they look at their electric bill? Especially when the health of my family and our organic farming efforts are compromised by suddenly being thrust in the middle of an industrial plant, a development that only benefits the aforementioned global profiteers?

      When it comes to energy, it is all problematic: coal, nuclear, fracking (horrible), and yes, even wind. “Cool It” is a fascinating documentary (available on Netflix) that offers progressive energy solutions that subvert the whole dynamic we have now: profiteers hiring lobbyists to collude with politicians to have laws passed (like excessive tax credits) that benefit developers, who in turn play off of our gullibility and desire to save the planet. Green Energy Ohio, by the way, while a great organization in many ways, is firmly in the pocket of Big Wind, so I would take what they have to say in this department with a healthy dose of salt (responsibly harvested sea salt, of course).

      Thanks for letting me say my piece. You do great work and I look forward to reading about your adventures, regardless of where they take you. But for the sake of truth, I hope they take you in the direction of a more nuanced approach to understanding energy.

      • December 26, 2012 at 3:59 pm

        Sarah, thanks for this detailed comment.

        I do realize that energy creation is a nuanced and complicated industry. Wind is not my first choice, but I do believe it is better than coal. Until my family can create our own energy or reduce consumption to minimal levels, we will be AEP customers and I would rather have my bill buying wind credits than fracking eploration…

        • January 5, 2013 at 1:14 pm

          Thanks for your kind reply, Rachel. Just to clarify though, industrial wind energy does not reduce the use of coal-powered electricity plants. I’m sure you don’t want to turn this into a long-winded (ha!) debate on industrial wind energy, but I did want to leave you with this link. Again, love your blog and appreciate all that you share with your readers. http://articles.latimes.com/2012/dec/09/local/la-me-unreliable-power-20121210

    2. Stephanie Kington
      December 22, 2012 at 7:33 am

      Hi Rachel,
      I have heard about this option…..has the price of your electric bill gone up since making the switch to 100% wind? If so, by how much.

    3. December 24, 2012 at 7:04 pm

      This is interesting. My mom in NJ has been doing this for a few years now, but I didn’t know it was available in Ohio. I’m not on AEP or one of the available options there. However, South Central power has an options where you pay 2.00 per block of 100 kw and then you pay that every month.

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