Make the Green Power Switch!
Frequently Asked Questions about Green Power Switch
1. What is green power?
"Green power" is a generic term used to describe electricity generated from renewable resources, such as the sun, wind or methane gas. Using renewable resources for generation substantially reduces-and often eliminates-the air emissions common with generation from fossil fuels, such as coal or natural gas. Green power is cleaner, better for the environment and helps preserve natural resources.
2. Why should I participate in Green Power Switch?
Customers have many different reasons for participating in Green Power Switch. Some people want to help protect natural resources for future generations. Others get involved because it's good for the community or they have strong commitment to environmental causes. Some businesses participate because it helps them show corporate leadership and community goodwill. Other businesses enroll because it is a way for them to stand apart from their competition.
3. Is this another way for MLGW to increase my bill? Do I have to participate?
No. Green Power Switch is a voluntary program designed to enable interested customers to support renewable generation. To enroll, you must contact MLGW. If you do not enroll, Green Power Switch fees will not appear on your MLGW bill.
4. How much does it cost for a residential customer to participate?
When you agree to enroll in Green Power Switch, you are authorizing MLGW to add a certain dollar amount to your monthly bill. (Green power purchases are an added expense; they do not reduce your normal electric costs.) The amount depends on the number of units you decide to buy. Each unit, or block, adds $4.00 to your bill. One block equals 150 kilowatt hours (kWh), which represents 10-12% of the average household's monthly electric use. You can buy as many blocks as you wish.
5. How much does it cost for a business to participate?
Business customers have a minimum participation level, starting at five blocks ($20 per month), based on their electric load. To learn what your company's or organization's minimum participation level is, call (901) 528-4549 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org .
6. How do I enroll?
Customers can enroll in several ways. Call the Green Power Switch hotline at (901) 528-4549. Email: email@example.com. Use the electronic enrollment form at www.mlgw.com or www.GreenPowerSwitch.com. Fill out and return a printed enrollment form available at trade shows, MLGW Community Offices and other locations.
7. My bill has an item called Green Power Switch participation. What is that?
When you enroll in Green Power Switch, the "Green Power Switch" line item is added to your monthly MLGW bill in the amount you requested. (It appears under the OTHER MLGW section of your bill.) Remember, your green power purchase is an additional fee; it does not reduce your regular electric cost.
8. Is Green Power Switch participation tax deductible?
No. Your contribution to Green Power Switch is not tax deductible.
9. What if I want to stop supporting Green Power Switch?
There is no contract to sign and no minimum subscription term. You can cancel your Green Power Switch enrollment at any time by calling (901) 528-4549 or emailing GreenPowerSwitch@mlgw.org
10. What does MLGW do with the money I contribute for Green Power Switch?
Customer funds are forwarded to TVA, MLGW's electric supplier, to pay for the construction and operation of TVA Green Power Switch electric generation facilities that use renewable energy sources. (MLGW keeps a one-time sum of $4.00 per participating customer as a program administration fee.)
11. How do I know TVA is spending my money to generate green power?
TVA's Green Power Switch program is certified by the Center for Resource Solutions, an independent nonprofit organization that verifies that the electricity generated from green power sources is sufficient to supply the amount of green power sold by the program. This certification verifies that the money collected for Green Power Switch is actually used to generate green power.
12. Why does green power cost more?
Due to the technologies and materials involved, the cost to construct green power generation facilities is more expensive than generation plants that run on fossil fuels, such as coal. In addition, green power generation facilities rely on energy sources that are not available 24 hours per day, so they only generate part of the day. (Solar facilities generate only during daylight hours and windmills are dependent on sustained winds.) To help alleviate this added expense, TVA created the Green Power Switch program - allowing customers who support the concept of green power to help fund availability. TVA's solar power production cost is $0.60 per kwh compared to $0.11 for wind power and less than $0.05 for power from methane gas.
13. Are there any renewable generation sites in Shelby County?
Yes. TVA operates a solar generation facility in Memphis, at the BRIDGES building on Fifth Street. This facility generates 26 kW of electricity, enough for 300 blocks of green power. TVA also buys methane gas from Memphis' Maxson Wastewater Treatment facility and pipes it to the nearby Allen Steam Plant where it is co-burned with coal to generate enough electricity to power more than 3,000 homes. This innovative use of methane gas reduces the facility's coal consumption by 8,000 pounds annually, improving air quality in the community. Both sources of green power are mixed into MLGW's electric distribution system and delivered to customers.
14. How is green power delivered to my home?
The green power you buy is added to the overall electric mix supplied by TVA to MLGW and is not delivered specifically to any individual home or business. No new wires or meters are installed at your home or business when you enroll.
15. What impact does green power make on the environment?
The best way to describe the impact of green power is to focus on reduced emissions. For example, buying two blocks of green power (at $8.00 per month) for one year provides the same environmental benefit as:
- Recycling 15,322 aluminum cans, or
- Planting an acre of trees, or
- Recycling 1,766 pounds of newspaper, or
- Not driving your car for four months
16. What mix of renewable sources is used in Green Power Switch?
TVA uses solar, wind and methane gas in its green power program. Unlike other programs, TVA does not count the hydroelectric power it generates from plants along the Tennessee River, since those generation facilities have been in use for decades. TVA only counts its new green power sites-16 solar power generation facilities (including BRIDGES in Memphis), methane gas co-burning at the local Allen Steam Plant and windmills on Buffalo Mountain near Oak Ridge, TN. For more information, visit www.greenpowerswitch.com
17. How is my electricity generated now?
TVA currently generates electricity from a mix of fuel sources, primarily coal, nuclear and hydro (water). In 2004, plants that burn fossil fuels (such as coal) generated 61% of the electricity TVA produced, followed by nuclear power plants (29%) and hydropower plants (9%). Green power represented less than 1% of TVA's total electric generation, an amount that is expected to increase slowly as more customers enroll in Green Power Switch.
18. How many customers buy green power?
Approximately 20,000 residential and business customers throughout the Tennessee Valley purchase green power. Customer participation levels have earned TVA's Green Power Switch program a top-10 ranking, from the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory for the third year in a row.