Putting aside any and all other issues, deregulation can offer several real advantages: disruptive options can enter markets; and, consumers can have choices. Of course, while anyone comparing U.S. cellphone rates to European prices has legitimate reason to wonder about this uncertain benefit, at times real opportunities for positive change can emerge.
This summer, consumers in Pennsylvania and New Jersey will have the option to power their homes with Ethical Electric-ity: an emergent firm that will provide electrons solely through investments in local wind and solar projects.
we put your power bill to work supporting 100% renewable energy from local clean sources. That means wind farms or solar farms within a few hours drive of your home. When we give you this Guarantee of Origin, you know that when you pay your power bill you’re supporting the new and clean forms of energy that we need to stop global warming, protect public health and create good jobs.
Ethical Electric is created by progressive activist Tom Matzzie (you might remember him from his MoveOn days). Several years ago, Tom went through the process of improving his home’s energy efficiency and then putting solar on the roof. He found that experience difficult to the extent that non-fiscal barriers would prevent many from taking the leap.
he found that the process of going solar, “while hugely awesome,” required patience, risk tolerance, and financial flexibility. It was hard—too hard for most people.
“My instincts as an organizer kicked in, and I thought, ‘this won’t scale as fast as we need,’”
Tom looked into buying clean electricity via a provider and found that confusing with uncertain results (just how clean is that electricity, really …?). Tom wishes to make buying clean electricity
as easy as downloading an app or buying a book on Amazon
Also, the focus is on creating new clean energy sources — not finding new profitability for things built under the Roosevelt Administration:
“If you enroll with one of those other companies, you’ll support a hydroelectric dam built 70 years ago or a wind farm built 15 years ago. That’s not new renewable energy.”
And, you won’t just be buying solar/wind electrons via Ethical Electricity, but also contributing to economic activity in your area, the fostering of clean energy infrastructure (installers, inspectors, etc…), and moving your electricity bill from a traditional firm potentially funding ALEC or the US Chamber of Commerce to a progressive firm that will be donating a portion of its revenues “to the causes you care about” with the donations driven by customer votes. And, Mattzie targets doing so with prices competitive to those offered by traditional suppliers.
What ultimately distinguishes Matzzie’s company from another clean energy provider is its commitment to progressive values—the ethics of electricity. “Clean is too generic. Green is too generic,” Matzzie says. He wants to show customers that “yes, we’re 100% clean energy, but we represent the total ecosystem of their values and are somebody they can feel comfortable doing business with.”
And that’s where Matzzie’s experience as an online organizer can help: He knows “how to get people to do things online for a good reason,” as he puts it. “Just like we saw people moving their money, we’re going to be asking people to move their power bill to a company that supports 100% clean energy.”
Right now, Ethical Electric is collecting names for interested customers with plans to open up in a few months. While starting with PA and NJ, it will expand into the 14 deregulated electricity markets across the country. If you’re in one of those, you can count the days until you have the opportunity to light your home with ethical electricity.
It’s time to “Move Your Power” to a progressive energy company.
NOTE: The graphic below, from the UK’s EcoSwitch, provides the sort of clean grading system comparing options that enable the average person to make informed decisions without investing significant resources in a learning process. (The site, of course, allows searching based on local post codes and not solely the national comparison below.)
As for the rates, EcoSwitch’s discussion concluded:
it’s easy to see that often green electricity prices are often as cheap as standard tariffs, and are sometimes lower. To that end, switching to green electricity and gas and 100% renewable green energy tariffs, with its ethical and environmental benefits, becomes an option too good to turn down.