The Diocese of Southern Ohio will have all power for its buildings from 100% renewable power products by the end of this month. When you flip a light switch at Procter Center, Diocesan House, Gabriel’s Place, or the Latino Ministry Center in Forest Park, the lights may be the same but the power will be coming from a green source. Working with Energility the diocese reviewed their current purchasing arrangements for all buildings. Energility evaluated their options and made recommendations for green programs at each property. The added benefit of this effort is that the diocese is saving of over $1,460 annually.

So, the diocese is going green and saving green. Makes a lot of sense, or is it cents?

Purchasing electric can be simple or it can be a challenge. This goes for selecting a supplier for your church, home or business. The better information you have, the more comfortable you will feel making this selection. If you want to go green, getting solar panels is great but requires a detailed study to figure out the right amount and a high cost to get them installed.

Purchasing electric goes beyond just paying the bill. Ever get a call from someone wanting to “get you a better rate”? Maybe they claim to be from the “power” company, or state that they are “calling about your Duke or DP&L (or fill in the utility) bill”. Then, you have to assess what they are telling you – is this “great rate” or “saved money” deal for real?

Being able to purchase your power from a company other than the one who delivers electric to your meter is a strategy that has been around for almost a decade now. Commercial retail electric suppliers (CRES) are responsible for providing a commodity. Unfortunately, some suppliers have taken advantage of the consumers by using deceptive tactics to get you to say “yes” to their perceived great deal. But a little knowledge can go a long way.

Did you know that you can use this opportunity to request renewable power? Yes, you can go green just by selecting an electric supply contract. Most of the time, purchasing green power is a slight premium compared to just purchasing fossil fuel generated electricity through a CRES provider. Green power is one in which the generation source can be verified as renewable and therefore the generator of the electricity gets a credit. This renewable energy credit (REC) is a confirmation to you as the consumer that the electric you are consuming comes from a green source.

One strategy is to purchase from a renewable source while you are evaluating what energy efficiency and energy conservation measures to perform. This could be for a variety of reasons, but is not limited to the fact that it takes time to raise capital funds to get this work done. Your building consumes electric to operate, so choosing to purchase electric generated from a renewable source limits the consumption of fossil fuels and gets your stewardship campaign started off with lower impact to the environment.

Another strategy of going to green power is to secure a contract after you have performed energy efficiency and energy conservation measures within your building. Lowering consumption from lighting and controls improvements is a sustainable way to lower your cost of doing business and increase your environmental stewardship. Then, since your building still must consume some power to operate your business to further your mission, you can choose to purchase the electricity from a renewable source takes that effort one step farther.

When choosing a supplier, it almost always makes sense to use a CRES provider for electric; then simply request that your electric generation be delivered from a renewable source. This does come with a cost premium. This premium could be up to 15% or $0.01 per kilowatt hour (kWh), so a building consuming 50,000 kWh per year would pay $500 to get green power. To compare: 40 kW of solar panels on the roof would be a $100,000 investment, so this is a much lower cost option to go green.

For some, this may be a great way to start a stewardship campaign or a way to allocate some of the energy efficiency and energy conservation savings towards furthering the mission, being green at home, or improving the sustainability of your business. Energility can help your church or commercial business sort out your green options or review local CRES providers through the Public Utility Commission of Ohio’s consumer site for an apples to apples comparison. You can see how it makes sense to go green.

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Justin Kale serves as Director of Opportunity Development at Energility, LLC.