Megan Hall: Welcome to Possibly, where we take on huge problems like the future of our planet and break them down into small questions with unexpected answers. I’m Megan Hall. 

How would you like to get all of your electricity from renewable sources? It turns out, you can, and you don’t even need to put panels on your roof to do it. 

Harrison Katz and Fatima Husain from our Possibly team are going to walk us through our options. Welcome, Harrison and Fatima!

Harrison Katz: Hi, Megan! 

Fatima Husain: Hello! 

Megan Hall: So, Harrison, what do I do if I want to get renewable electricity for my home? 

Harrison Katz: To find out, we spoke with Dawn King, a Senior Lecturer in Environment and Society at Brown University.

Fatima Husain: She says, here in Rhode Island, there are actually a lot of ways to power your home with wind and solar energy, thanks to something called Renewable Energy Certificates. 

Dawn King: Those are requirements for the utilities to purchase x percentage of renewable energy. 

Harrison Katz: Because of these requirements, a portion of your electricity is already renewable.

Megan Hall: Really? I had no idea! But, what if I want ALL of my electricity to come from renewable sources? 

Fatima Husain: You can do that too. And Dawn says you have a few options, including buying your electricity from non-profits like the Green Energy Consumers Alliance. 

Megan Hall: What do they do? 

Harrison Katz: Remember those renewable energy certificates we mentioned before? 

Megan Hall: Yeah- big utilities are required to buy a certain percentage of them.

Fatima Husain: Right. Dawn says, when you buy your electricity through these non-profits, you’re paying them to buy up those certificates.

Harrison Katz: Which takes them off the market. 

Fatima Husain: Meaning… there’s not enough renewable energy left over for the big utilities to meet their requirements.

Harrison Katz: This forces them to create more solar and wind power on their own.

Megan Hall: So, if I buy energy through these non-profits, I’m helping them force local utilities to create more renewable energy?

Harrison Katz: Exactly. But Dawn says that’s not your only option. In Rhode Island, you can get your energy from the sun, without installing a single solar panel. 

Dawn King: It’s not on your rooftop, but you’re still pitching in with others to say that you’ll purchase that energy.

Fatima Husain: This new program is called “community solar” and in Rhode Island, it’s managed by a company called Arcadia. 

Megan Hall: How does it work? 

Harrison Katz: With community solar, a company builds and manages solar farms in sun-friendly locations. When you sign up, your money goes towards supporting the farms and buying their energy.  

Fatima Husain: And since those farms are designed to capture as much sunshine as possible, community solar is often more efficient than the electricity you might get off your roof.

Megan Hall: Do I have to own my house to sign up for community solar? 

Fatima Husain: No- that’s the great thing. It’s just like signing up for a utility bill. As long as it’s offered in your area, you can get it. 

Megan Hall: Cool, do I have any other options? 

Fatima Husain: Yes. You can also try something called green pricing. 

Harrison Katz: It’s pretty simple- you just pay your normal energy provider a little more money every month to buy electricity from renewable sources.

Megan Hall: How do I sign up for that? 

Fatima Husain: Watch your mail for green pricing opportunities from your utility company. 

Harrison Katz: And do a little searching on the internet! Try typing in your state or city name plus terms like renewable energy or green pricing. 

Megan Hall: Which one should I choose? 

Fatima Husain: There are differences between the options, but all of them support renewables more than doing nothing. And the bottom line is any one of them is a step towards creating fewer greenhouse gas emissions.

Megan Hall: Great! Thanks, Harrison and Fatima!

That’s it for today. For more information, or to ask a question about the way you recycle, use energy, or make any other choice that affects the planet, go to the public’s radio dot org slash possibly. Or subscribe to us wherever you get your podcasts. 

Possibly is a co-production of the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society, Brown’s Climate Solutions Initiative, and the Public’s Radio.