Green power

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Green power refers to environmentally preferable energy and energy technologies. From the point of view of the consumer, it also refers to electricity products that include significant proportions of electricity generated from energy resources that are both renewable and environment friendly.


Why should I be aware of this?

Green power is an optional utility service. It allows customers an opportunity to support a greater level of investment in renewable energy technologies. By choosing to purchase a green power product, customers can support increased development of renewable energy sources. This can in turn reduce the burning of fossil fuels, such as coal, oil, and natural gas. Participating customers pay a premium on their electric bill to cover the incremental cost of the additional renewable energy.

How does this affect me?

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Traditional energy sources though cheaper in money terms, are very expensive if we consider the impact on natural resources. They also add to our carbon footprint.

  • Air emissions -- Fossil fuel-fired power plants are responsible for 67% of the the US' sulfur dioxide emissions, 23% of nitrogen oxide emissions, and 40% of man-made carbon dioxide emissions. These emissions can lead to smog, acid rain, and haze, in addition to increasing the risk of climate change. Though nuclear power plants do not emit carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, or nitrogen oxides, uranium mining and uranium enrichment process does result in emissions.
  • Water resource use -- Electricity generation generally involves the consumption of water resources for processes such as steam production and cooling, equipment cleaning, and other purposes.
  • Water Discharges -- Some forms of electricity generation involve the discharge of water that contain pollutants. In addition, drilling and mining operations can affect water quality of the area.
  • Solid waste generation -- Some electricity generation technologies result in the creation of solid waste. This waste may contain toxic and hazardous elements and materials.
  • Land resource use-- Electricity generation generally requires the use of land resources. This could be for mining and extraction of fuel, and for setting up the electricity generating facilities themselves.

All about green power

Green power is a subset of renewable energy and represents those renewable energy resources and technologies that provide the highest environmental benefit. They do not produce anthropogenic (human caused) greenhouse gas emissions. The EPA defines green power as electricity produced from:

  • Solar
  • Wind
  • Geothermal
  • Biogas
  • Biomass
  • Low-impact small hydroelectric sources.
  • Solar photovoltaic systems
  • Fuel cells

Green power and the environment

Environmental impact of green power is generally minimal.

  • Low environmental impact
  • Low greenhouse gas emissions
  • In most cases energy is derived from natural sources that can replenish themselves over short periods of time.

However, these power sources still do have some effect on the environment. For example, biomass resources are converted to electricity through combustion, which emits some air pollutants. Hydroelectric dams can flood the surrounding land and impede the passage of fish. Compared with conventional power, however, renewable power generally avoids, or at least significantly reduces, the adverse environmental impacts of conventional electricity generation.

What can I do?

  • Customers may sign up for the green rate by visiting or calling their local area supply station. The green rate in Washington US, is only 1/2 cent per kilowatt-hour more than the standard rate.
  • Use the Power Profiler[1] to determine the air emissions impacts associated with your home or business's electricity use.
  • Small businesses can find tools and resources on to help make smart energy choices.
  • Find out if your facility is a good candidate for combined heat and power.


  • Burning solid municipal waste produces nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide as well as trace amounts of toxic pollutants, such as mercury compounds and dioxins. Although MSW power plants do emit carbon dioxide, the primary greenhouse gas, the biomass-derived portion is considered to be part of the Earth's natural carbon cycle.

See also


  • Green power
  • THe definition of green power
  • Green Power Market:U.S.EPA

Additional information

  • Sample power profile


  1. Sample power profile