Pros and cons of green power
Last updated 1/2/2019
Aside from the potential economic and monetary effects of a green power program, purchasing green power from your utility has several environmental and social impacts to consider when researching green power options.
Pros and cons of green power
Choosing to enroll in a green power has environmental and social impacts separate from the economic implications. Before you decide to join a green power program it is important to understand how green power impacts the world and people around you.
Green power pros
As with other renewable energy investments, opting for a green power plan with your utility is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and limit greenhouse gas emissions while simultaneously supporting future clean power developments. When you pay your utility to generate a certain amount of electricity with renewable sources, you decrease your environmental impact and reduce monetary support for oil, coal, and other fossil fuels. Instead, the price you pay for green power goes toward funding the development of new renewable energy projects.
More generally, supporting renewable energy encourages energy independence, green jobs, and lasting, resilient power production methods. By investing in green power programs, you can help to realize the benefits of all renewables for long-term sustainability for yourself and future generations.
The premium you pay for green power will be used in different ways depending on your utility’s green power program structure. For example, if you are a customer of We Energies and enroll in their green power program, the premium price you pay helps to “produce or purchase renewable energy and to enroll new participants.” For many utilities, the premium they charge from green power programs goes towards the planning and development of more renewable projects as well as program administration.
For large organizations or companies, green power has further benefits. Being able to say that your business or group is powered to some degree by clean energy sources is a strong brand differentiator and creates positive company publicity, especially as businesses and organizations are under more and more pressure to act in environmentally conscious ways. Opting in to a green power program as a large company can attract talent, result in positive media coverage, and generally boost brand value.
Green power cons
Renewable energy is an overwhelmingly positive force for our planet and energy future, but there are some issues that arise from buying into a green power program. For example, some hydroelectric developments that fall under the green power umbrella, as well as wind projects, can have negative impacts on wildlife depending where they are built and how they are developed. Supporting renewables will usually have a net positive effect on the environment, but certain types of renewable developments have more of an impact than others.
In the same way that green power can be a positive publicity statement for organizations, it can also be seen as a kind of “greenwashing,” in which an organization participates in an environmentally-friendly program just to be able to say that it cares for the environment. Green power isn’t a one-size-fits-all environmental solution, and organizations investing in green power should treat it as one segment of an organization-wide environmental plan.