Why buy green power?
Using electricity from clean, renewable energy sources is one of the most meaningful actions businesses and consumers can take to reduce their own environmental footprint. More than an environmental move, buying renewable energy also supports U.S. jobs, greater independence from imported fuels, cleaner air, and a sustainable, reliable supply of energy for this generation and many more to come.
Today, wind power and other forms of renewable energy are an easy and affordable option, available to electricity users everywhere. Here in Philadelphia, businesses and individual consumers alike are stepping up to buy renewable energy, answering Mayor Michael Nutter’s call to help make Philadelphia greener.
What is renewable energy?
Renewable energy is energy derived from natural sources that replenish themselves over a period of time without depleting the Earth’s resources. These resources also have the benefit of being abundant, available in some capacity nearly everywhere, and causing little or no environmental impacts. Energy from the sun, wind, plants and moving water are examples. On the other hand, fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas are not renewable, since their quantity is limited and slow to replenish.
Renewable energy is a clean source of electricity production. Today, renewables account for approximately 3% of total U.S. electricity production. (Large hydro, at 6%, is not considered renewable due to fish and wildlife impacts.) But that percentage is on the move up, thanks to a growing demand for clean energy.
Businesses and consumers alike look to renewable energy to reduce the impacts associated with their everyday use of electricity. Production of electricity is the nation’s leading cause of industrial air pollution. Most electricity comes from coal , 43%; natural gas, 21%; nuclear, 20%; and other non-renewable sources. Using renewable sources instead produces electricity in an environmentally preferable way and without emitting carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas.
Renewable energy provides many benefits to people, business and the planet.
Benefits for human health
Renewable energy is a viable alternative to conventional electricity production and a way to avoid the following outcomes, associated with traditional power plants:
- 66% of U.S. emissions of sulfur dioxide, a cause of acid rain and a trigger for asthma and other respiratory health issues
- Ground-level ozone and 29% of U.S. emissions of nitrogen oxides, which react with sunlight to form ground-level ozone and smog that cause respiratory problems
- Particulates, or soot, that aggravate lung and heart disease.
- Carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that many scientists believe is a contributor to global climate change
Benefits for U.S. economy
Renewable energy provides reliable power and fuel diversity. This enhances energy security and reduces the need for imported fuels. Renewable energy also helps conserve the nation’s natural resources.
According to studies by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Energy Information Administration and the Union of Concerned Scientists, if the U.S. were to supply 10% of its electricity from renewables by 2020, the following would occur:
- Consumer savings: $22.6 billion to $37.7 billion in lower electricity and natural gas bills
- Jobs: 91,220 new jobs – nearly twice as many when compared to generating electricity from fossil fuels
- Economic development: $41.5 billion in new capital investment, $5.7 billion in income to farmers, ranchers and rural landowners, and $2.8 billion in local tax revenues
- Healthier environment: Reductions of carbon dioxide emission buildup comparable to taking up to 32 million cars off the road, plus less haze, smog, acid rain and water use
Benefits for the planet
Greater use of renewable energy has truly universal benefits. What’s good for the planet is good for all. Renewable energy is sustainable, meaning it is unlimited, readily available and creates “triple bottom line” benefits. It’s good for people, the planet and economic sustainability.