Carbon Free January 2021

Week 4 – Carbon Free Electricity

Week 4 - Carbon Free Electricity. Lightbulb image and text Let's sign some light on renewable energy options for the home. Don't miss this week's "Clean Power Hour" on Zoom!Welcome to week 4 of our Carbon Free Challenge. In the final week, we invite you to swap your fossil fuel driven electricity for renewables like wind and solar. Electricity production creates 25% of heat-trapping CO2 emissions globally, so it’s important to green our grid.

Many experts believe that electrifying our homes with renewable energy is one of the most important things we can do. Others promote conservation, “plugging holes” in our buildings, retrofitting them with heat pumps and improving our distribution systems. According to the Project Drawdown electricity summary, the answer is all of the above!

Let’s first look at how it works to choose a green energy supplier, or ESCO. It’s important to understand that when you choose a green energy supplier, Con Ed will continue providing the infrastructure that supplies your building with electricity. The supplier you choose will pump clean energy into the grid and as payment ConEd will give them certificates, which are sold to their subscribers. So the energy you purchase isn’t going directly to your home, but into the grid that supplies electricity to everyone. This means that less fossil fuel energy will need to be generated, which is our goal! 

Graphic showing Renewable energy generation and distribution

The World Resources Institute, the EPA and the Union of Concerned Scientists have all said that certificates are a legitimate way to foster the growth of the renewable energy industry. — New York Times

Here is a listing of Renewable Energy Suppliers in New York State. Be sure to look at the price per kWh, which is often slightly higher for renewables, look if they have a cancellation fee, and most importantly check the renewable energy column for which type of energy certificate you are buying (e.g. wind, solar, biomass.) Even if you buy renewable energy certificates, you will still be using some electricity that is generated by fossil fuels— this will be the case until we have completely “greened the grid.”

Another option we really love is community solar, which allows you to become part owner in a solar cooperative! This is especially great news for renters who can’t install solar panels on their own building. Check out the Here Comes Solar website to find a coop near you. (Note: We really like Sunset Park Solar , which began as a partnership between Uprose, Solar One and Coop Power. Their array is being installed on top of the Brooklyn Navy Yard.)

If you own your home, consider replacing your gas stove with an electric one, and changing out your oil or gas fed furnace with electric or heat pump, or geothermal heat and air. Here’s an article to help you understand the rebates and incentives for NY states Geothermal program. If you’re thinking about solar panels- solar tax credits have been extended an additional two years!

If just 10% of New York’s households choose Green Power for their electricity supply, it would prevent nearly 3 billion pounds of carbon dioxide, 10 million pounds of sulfur dioxide, and nearly 4 million pounds of nitrogen oxides from getting into our air each year. Green Power helps us all breathe a little easier. – Public Service Commission


Week 4 Actions 

  • Sign up for a clean energy plan! 
    • Join Community Solar – sign up here to get on the list!
    • Or, pick a renewable energy supplier (ESCO) from the list!
  • Still got questions? Attend a panel!
    • Join Renewable Solutions’ Clean Power Hour on January 27 at 7:30pm to ask your questions to local businesses providing solar panels, renewable heating and cooling systems. Educate yourself on the best way to retrofit your home or supply clean energy to the grid.
    • If you are a property owner or want to geek out further about retrofitting NY buildings with Heat pumps, join 2030 District’s informative panel on February 2nd.
  • Legislative action of the week:
    • Send a message here to your legislators requesting they allow solar owners to take a cash grant option instead of a tax credit, which will help lower income bracket home owners. 
    • Make calls with us! Build on your zero waste momentum from last week and make calls for New York’s Packaging EPR legislation; State Senate Bill S7718 and Assembly Bill A09790, which requires producers to finance collection and recycling of curbside materials. Please Sign up here for the log-in info.


P.S. Remember to share your triumphs and struggles in our Facebook Group – 350 BK Carbon Free January Challenge!