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 reduces carbon dioxide and other 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. People use the terms “green power” and “renewable energy” interchangeably.
These green or renewable generation facilities often require vast amounts of land, located far away from population centers, so the green power they produce is mixed into the overall electric grid along with all other forms of electricity. Programs like Green Switch enable customers to purchase of units of green power to rightfully claim an equal portion of a home’s or facility’s energy use comes from renewable resources. Programs such as this have been around since the late 1990s and early 2000s.
2. Why should I participate in Green Switch?
Customers have many different reasons for participating in Green Switch. Some people want to help protect natural resources for future generations, by encouraging the use of more renewable energy. Others get involved because it's good for the community or they have a strong commitment to environmental causes. Some businesses participate because they track and report their sustainability efforts as a way to show corporate leadership and community goodwill. Other businesses enroll to stand apart from their competition and attract new customers, employees and/or investors. Green Switch is an extra cost, above your regular MLGW electricity charges, so participants place an added value on green energy.
3. Is this another way for MLGW to increase my bill? Do I have to participate?
No and no. Green Switch is a voluntary program designed to enable interested customers to support renewable generation. To enroll, you must contact MLGW and specify the number of blocks you wish to purchase each month. (You’ll get a confirmation letter in the mail when enrollment is complete.) If you do not enroll, Green Switch charges will not appear on your MLGW bill.
4. How much does it cost for a residential customer to participate?
When you request to enroll in Green Switch, you are authorizing MLGW to add a certain dollar amount to your monthly bill. (Green Switch is an added expense; above your normal electric costs.) The amount depends on the number of units – called blocks-- you decide to buy. Each block purchased gives you the legal rights to claim that 200 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity used at your home is from renewable sources. Each block adds $2.00 to your monthly bill – so it’s like paying an extra $0.01 per kWh.
For example: Login to My Account at www.mlgw.com and click the Explore Usage button to access the Bill History feature. You can view and download up to 24 months of consumption history. If your annual electricity use is 14,000 kWh, that averages 1,200 kWh per month.
- Buy 6 blocks per month ($12) to claim your home uses 100% renewable energy.
- Buy 3 blocks per month ($6) to claim your home uses 50% renewable energy.
- Buy 2 blocks per month ($4) to claim your home uses 33% renewable energy.
- Buy 1 block per month ($2) to claim your home uses 16.7% renewable energy.
You can buy as many blocks as you wish. TVA has a great calculator to help you see the impact of various levels of participation.
5. How much does it cost for a business to participate?
You decide how much to spend! When you request to enroll in Green Switch, you are authorizing MLGW to add a certain dollar amount to your monthly bill. (Green Switch is a premium product, above your normal electricity charges.) The amount billed depends on the number of units – called blocks-- you decide to buy. Each block purchased gives you the legal rights to claim that 200 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity use at your facility is from renewable sources. Each block adds $2.00 to your monthly bill – so it’s like paying an extra $0.01 per kWh. You can buy as many blocks as you choose; there is no minimum participation level.
Most business choose to purchase blocks that equal at least 5% --and sometimes much more – of their annual electricity usage. If your small business or organization wants to claim up to 100% renewable energy, we can help you make that a reality! For assistance with purchase calculations, call (901) 528-4549 or email us at email@example.com .
If your business or organization is larger and thus needs more green power, contact us to explore all the options.
6. How do I enroll?
Enrollment is easy! Use the electronic enrollment form at www.mlgw.com/greenpower , call Green Switch at (901) 528-4549 or email firstname.lastname@example.org with details of your request (or a call-back number).
7. My bill has a line called “Green Switch.” What is that?
When you enroll in Green Switch, the "Green 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 charges.
8. Is Green Switch participation tax deductible?
No. Your Green Switch charges are not tax deductible. You are buying the rights to call a certain percentage of your electricity use “renewable” or “green.”
9. What if I want to stop supporting Green Switch?
You can cancel your Green Switch enrollment at any time by calling (901) 528-4549 or emailing GreenPowerSwitch@mlgw.org Depending on the date of your request in relation to your next utility bill, you may get billed one final month of Green Switch charges before they stop.
10. What does MLGW do with Green Switch payments?
MLGW keeps $4.00 for each new enrollment as a program administration fee. All other Green Switch funds are forwarded to TVA, MLGW's electric supplier, and used to cover the costs of renewable energy, administration and marketing for Green Switch.
11. How do I know TVA is spending my money to provide green power?
TVA's Green Switch program is Green-e Energy 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 Switch is actually used to provide green power.
12. Why does green power cost more?
If TVA needed to build more generation plants today, solar and wind power are cost-competitive with other fuel sources. However, since TVA has sufficient generation facilities to meet the Valley’s electricity needs, adding renewable generation plants (or buying renewable power from other generators) increases TVA’s costs. As public power companies, TVA and MLGW are committed to delivering low-cost, reliable power so, rather than spreading that increased cost among all customers, programs like Green Switch enable customers who want to support green power to fund and benefit from it directly.
13. Are there any renewable generation sites in Shelby County that support Green Switch?
Yes, about one hundred! TVA operates a 26 kW solar generation facility in Memphis, at the BRIDGES Center on Fifth Street. TVA also buys the green power generated by thousands of small-scale, privately-owned systems at homes and business across the Valley – including about 100 here in Shelby County – to help supply the Green Switch program. All sources of green power are mixed into MLGW's electric distribution system and delivered to all customers. However, only the customers who purchase Green Switch (or other renewable options) can claim the use of renewable energy.
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. While you don’t receive the green electrons directly, participation gives you the legal right to claim those environmental benefits.
15. What mix of renewable sources is used in Green Switch?
Solar, wind and methane gas generation supply the Green Switch program. The amount of each resource varies per year and is part of the Green-e Energy audit performed annually by Center for Resource Solutions. Read TVA’s historic product content label and prospective product content label for percentages and location.
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.
16. How is my electricity generated now?
TVA currently generates electricity from a mix of fuel sources, primarily nuclear, natural gas, coal and hydro (water). Renewables resources represent about 3% of the total power supply.
However, by retiring coal plants and increasing other forms of generation, TVA has reduced its emissions nearly 55%, compared to 2005 levels, and is on track to reach a 70% reduction by 2030.
TVA’s 2019 Integrated Resource Plan calls for the addition of up to 14 gigawatts of solar generation over the next 20 years. Actual amounts will depend on the economy and demand for renewable generation through programs like Green Switch.
17. How many customers buy green power?
That’s a complicated question! There are approximately 10,000 residential and business customers throughout the Tennessee Valley who participate in Green Switch, including about 1,100 in Shelby County as of June 2020. In addition, there are other renewable generation options for business customers who require large volumes of green power to meet their sustainability goals. While fewer in number, those businesses buy massive amounts of green power. Read more about “offsite options” at www.mlgw.com/greenpower
18. What happened to the Green Power Switch program?
In April 2020, TVA’s Green Power Switch program turned 20 years old and TVA evaluated ways to improve it. Those changes included a new name (Green Switch), a lower price ($2 per block instead of $4) and a more green power per block (200 kWh instead of 150 kWh). In June 2020, all existing Green Power Switch customers served by MLGW were automatically enrolled in the new program to benefit from lower prices and increased green energy. Changes occurred on participants’ MLGW bills dated on and after 6/4/2020.