How to think about “Green Choice Energy Programs”?
In Austin we have a program where one chooses more expensive electricity and the utility commits to sourcing the household usage through low-carbon options (primarily wind power). e.g., https://austinenergy.com/ae/green-power/greenchoice/greenchoice-renewable-energy There are similar programs, each with a twist, around the country, e.g., https://cleanchoiceenergy.com/how-it-works/areas-we-serve/
I wonder if anyone knows the “technical” term for such programs, and if there are studies about their effects (maybe someone like Rocky Mountain Institute has studied them?). I wonder how to think about them in two contexts:
– when looking at analyses that include local/state info on carbon intensity of electricity (e.g, Texas grid has dirty coal power, but my house has clean wind power?)
– vs considering solar installations on one’s house. ie. are they at all a source of reasonable claims of equivalence to “zero net energy”?
I’m thinking that it really depends on what the utility would have done without this program. I’m thinking that, at the margin, they are a source of free investment funds for the utility, meaning that they reduce the cost of borrowing to invest in renewable energy by whatever the utility would have had to pay in interest? So figure out capital costs for renewable investments. take out interest on funds available through the green choice purchasing and then figure out the overall cost of the renewable investment? ie it makes wind/solar utility scale investments a little bit cheaper, and in aggregate makes the grid mix a little less carbon intensive?
But at an individual carbon load accounting level, how should we think of them?
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