If you live anywhere in the United States that utilizes electricity, then your home is powered by a power grid. That grid is a proverbial "melting pot" of all kinds of different fuel sources mixed together to form the energy that powers your home, like an energy smoothie of sorts.
Power Ingredients Vary by Region
The mix of this grid will change depending on which state you live in, and which grid provides your power.
Some states are highly dependent on a few particular energy sources. For example, if you live in Pennsylvania or New Jersey, then the energy that goes into your home comes from PJM, and the grid is primarily made up of coal, with nuclear coming in at a close second.
By contrast, if you live in a state like Maine or New Hampshire, then your power comes from ISO New England, and your mix contains much more natural gas, with coal representing a much smaller slice of the pie.
Who Decides What Goes into the Power Grid?
A lot of factors control the mix of power sources on your local grid, and given the confusing nature of utilities, you may be under the impression that you have no control over what goes into this mix.
However, regardless of where you live and what's in your grid mix, you can make a choice to move your grid towards cleaner and more sustainable energy, and in many cases, renewable wind energy is often going to be one of the easiest to switch to.
Choosing to utilize clean energy like wind power for your home is relatively simple, though, to be clear: you are not flipping a switch, and “Abracadabra”, powering your home with 100% wind power. Choosing wind power for homes involves calculating the amount of power you use on a monthly basis, and then having clean energy be put into the grid on your behalf to balance that usage.
Confused? Don’t be. Think of it like this:
The Grid is Like a Smoothie
Think of the grid as a smoothie.
A smoothie is full of all sorts of ingredients that may (or may not) be good for you.
Now just imagine that those smoothie ingredients are all the types of power sources and that the blender is the grid. Now imagine that the smoothie liquid is essentially your power. It's always in your best interest to put the best and most wholesome ingredients into your smoothie as possible, so you want to add as many healthy options as you can into the mix.
So if we were to break down the Maine and New Hampshire grid, and contrast that next to the New Jersey and Pennsylvania grid, then their respective mixes would look like so:
There's lots of dirty ingredients within both those containers, which doesn't make for the most appetizing of smoothie mixes – and they probably don't taste very good. Not that you would ever, or SHOULD ever, “drink” electricity, but you get the idea. By purchasing renewable energy certificates, you are essentially diluting the amount of dirty energy that goes into this mix by making sure that more clean energy is added to the grid.
You Can Make the Grid Less Dirty
The easiest way to do this is by working with renewable energy companies that will assume the obligation of being your power provider and will then purchase a "renewable energy certificate" or "REC" on your behalf.
What this means is that for every kilowatt hour of energy you use from the existing grid, another renewable energy certificate for that kilowatt hour is purchased from a wind farm and placed onto the grid as clean energy. This is usually done in bulk as one REC is equal to every 1,000 kWh (or 1 megawatt hour) which – for perspective – is about 1/10 the amount of energy an average home will use in a year.
This is the easiest and most efficient way to switch to a renewable and sustainable option like wind power. Wind power is not the only clean energy option available, as moving to solar power is also a great way to utilize a renewable energy source. However, as the technology and mechanisms of renewable energy become more advanced, it will only become easier to switch to clean energy.