My Energy Choices: Voting with my dollar

Now that I have better information, thanks to energy consultant Kevin Rose, I’d like to see what happens if I take on more control of how I spend my energy dollars.

During our conversation, Kevin seemed cautious about my idea of switching to a third party energy generator. Although I might gain a better understanding of where my energy comes from, he acknowledged, I could be entering into an agreement that could shift at any moment. What is the worst that could happen in that case? If my chosen energy provider goes out of business, do my lights go out?


I’d like to test this. True, I really hope my lights don’t go out (maybe I’ll keep a headlamp handy…), but it seems to me that the energy business has got to be pretty profitable, right? So why not give a smaller, newer, perhaps more forward-thinking energy company a fighting chance to compete.


Personally, I’m motivated to encourage renewable energy generation. Even though I already pay a few cents every billing cycle towards that goal, as we all do, it would be worth it to me to pay even a bit more if I knew those funds were going to wind, solar, or some other renewable technology I’m not familiar with yet.


How much am I willing to spend? And is everyone in my household thinking this would be a good idea?


I’ve received some offers lately, in the form of direct mail from companies that claim it’s easy to change to them, plus I can cancel at any time. Kevin told me I’d still get my electric bill from Eversource, the utility I’m basically “assigned” to on the basis of where I live. But I don’t have a lot of time I’m willing to devote to doing research, and I bet you don’t either.


Getting recommendations from friends is a route I often choose in such cases. A number of friends and acquaintances in Arlington are switching to a program through Mass Consumers Energy Alliance, a nonprofit that describes itself as making energy “more affordable and environmentally sustainable.” With their program, I still get my usual bill from Eversource each month, but then I get a second bill on top of that from Mass Consumers Energy Alliance, also based on my household’s electricity usage that month. That extra charge represents the increased cost that it takes to generate electricity using renewable energy sources, which continues to be slightly higher than fossil fuel generation. Because Mass Consumers Energy Alliance is a nonprofit I can deduct that additional cost at tax season. Their promise to me is that what I am paying for, even on my electric bill from Eversource, is all going towards paying for renewable energy generation and reducing the same number of energy units (kWh) that need to be generated by fossil fuel sources.


This is intriguing enough for me to consider. Stay tuned to see what our household decides to do with new energy choice information.

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May 12, 2015