Charles Segerman, director of REC broker Clean Currents, tells Daniel Goldstein what happens when customers buy renewable energy credits from his company.
Segerman says Clean Currents tries to educate businesses about green power - and the fact that they have a choice to buy it. He says many aren't aware that they have a choice, and they they can further select what type of green power generation they want to pay for.
He says RECs can be bought through the company's Web site, and consumers can choose what type of generation they want. He says the energy business is a wholesale-to-retail operation. The customer is selecting the wholesaler. RECs essentially support a wind farm - one that is somewhere in the grid and offsetting the energy generated by a non-renewable source. Basically, it's a financing mechanism for generators like wind farms.
Segerman says each REC has a tracking number that allows for third-party organizations like the Center for Resource Solutions to verify that RECs are retired and not re-sold. He says as more people pay for RECs, it indicates a higher demand for green power, and that utilities should, in turn, buy more of their power from renewable suppliers.
Segerman says its unclear whether consumers will demand more wind or solar in the future. He thinks customers want choice, but they are also concerned by the aesthetics of wind - the noise or the sight of wind turbines. Others are attracted to solar power because it offers on-site generation, where it's more likely that people can generate all their own power without using the grid. He says next big breakthrough could be battery storage, which can supply power when wind and solar generation aren't practical.