Renewable Energy FAQ
What is renewable energy?
Renewable energy is electricity that is produced from sources that replenish themselves naturally. This includes wind, sunlight (solar), landfill and agricultural waste (biomass), the heat of the earth (geothermal), and eligible hydro-electric facilities.
These renewable sources of electricity have less impact on the environment than traditional methods of electricity generation, which includes burning fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas. Natural gas and coal, for example, are not renewables because their use consumes gas and coal reserves at a much quicker rate than they are replenished.
Renewable energy has a much lower impact on the environment than traditional methods of electricity generation. It produces lower levels of air pollutants, waste water, smog and acid rain, and it can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. By supporting renewable energy, you can help protect the environment by offsetting the need for more fossil fuel generation. In addition, renewable energy can help reduce our nation's reliance on fossil fuels.
What are the benefits of renewable energy?
Conventional electricity purchased from power plants in California causes the emission of 661 pounds of Carbon Dioxide per MWh. Enrolling in Santa Clara Green Power reduces your electricity-related emissions by 100 percent.
For the average residential customer, enrollment prevents the emission of 7,490 pounds of Carbon Dioxide a year. The environmental and air quality benefits are equivalent to the carbon removed from the atmosphere annually by 2.8 acres of pine or fir forests, or not driving your car for half a year.
Does renewable energy cost more?
Yes, but the premium you pay for green power vs “brown power” has been steadily falling. The average household in Santa Clara using 500 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of power each month will pay an additional cost of $7.50 more for Santa Clara Green Power, less than the cost of two gourmet coffees. Small businesses will pay the same small additional cost as residents for 100 percent of their use. For large businesses, the additional cost begins at fifteen dollars a month for each 1,000 kilowatt-hour block of renewable energy.
How does my money support renewable energy?
This program is revenue neutral for SVP. That means that the majority of the money you spend by enrolling in this program goes back to the people who are building more renewable facilities and trying to create a cleaner energy future. If you compare this program with similar programs across the country, this is one of the cheapest offered by utilities.
If you consume 5,640 kilowatt hours (kWh) in one year, and choose to participate in Santa Clara Green Power, you will be supporting 5,640 kWh of electricity output from recently built or new wind and solar generators. Every 536 Santa Clara homes that participate in Santa Clara Green Power purchase the output of approximately one new wind generator on the wind farms the program is supporting.
What is SVP's energy mix?
SVP’s 2011 power mix consisted of 25.1 percent eligible renewable resources, compared to just 13.7 percent statewide in 2010. SVP also manages the Neighborhood Solar Program, which installs solar panels within our community.
Why aren't we purchasing renewable energy for 100 percent of our customers? Most of our customers want us to serve them reliable power at the lowest cost available. Adding more renewables to the mix is more expensive. because renewables are very investment intensive.
It is up to consumers to let it be known that they want better energy choices. Consumers can show this support by enrolling in programs like Santa Clara Green Power that promote the development of renewable of renewable energy facilities. SVP can also tell you about energy efficiency measures you can take, and about rebates you can get if you install solar panels on your home.
What is the difference between the Neighborhood Solar program and Santa Clara Green Power?
The Neighborhood Solar program gives you the opportunity to make a monthly donation towards the installation of solar energy projects at non-profits, schools and other public facilities within the community. Residents can choose to contribute $5 or $10 per month, which is added to your regular utility bill. This contribution is not tax deductible.
When you choose Santa Clara Green Power, SVP purchases 100 percent of the energy you use for your home from western region wind and California solar resources. A portion of your payment goes towards the Neighborhood Solar program.
You can participate in both programs if you choose.