NC GreenPower

GENERAL

What is green power? 
Green power is electricity generated from renewable energy sources such as the sun, wind, water and organic matter. These resources are replenished by nature and are a cleaner source of energy.

Where does our power come from today?
North Carolina’s power comes primarily from fossil fuels. As of September 2013, about 36% of energy supplied to North Carolina comes from coal, down from nearly 60% just a few years ago. Around 35% comes from nuclear power, and 24% from natural gas, with a small remainder coming from hydroelectric and other renewable sources. For the most up-to-date information, visit North Carolina’s EIA profile page here.

Why is renewable energy important? 
Non-renewable fuels account for more than 90% of our current power supply. These resources are limited in supply and consumption of some fuels produces pollution that can affect our environment. Renewable energy is available in abundance and is much cleaner to use than traditional fuel sources. Using renewable energy in North Carolina can result in cleaner air and water, and a more stable energy supply for the future.

What is a REC?
A Renewable Energy Certificate (REC), or Renewable Energy Credit, is created for each megawatt-hour (MWh) or 1,000 kilowatt-hours of “green” electricity generated from a renewable energy source. These green attributes represent the added value and environmental benefits from the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. NC GreenPower renewable energy blocks are offered in 100 kWh portions = 0.1 MWH or RECs)

What is a carbon offset? 
A carbon offset is created by a project that mitigates carbon dioxide or carbon dioxide equivalent (greenhouse gas emissions such as methane).  Carbon offsets have a monetary value, and can be bought and sold.  NC GreenPower carbon offset projects can be in North Carolina, South Carolina or Virginia.  NC GreenPower has adopted nine quality criteria for offsets to ensure that NC GreenPower contributors are supporting projects that make a difference and would not otherwise be developed. Projects are certified by a third party that provides accurate and transparent measurement, verification and tracking of greenhouse gas reductions and their inventories. Types of carbon offset projects include methane collection and combustion from farm animals, landfills or other industrial waste and forestry projects (reforestation and avoiding deforestation).

What is a greenhouse gas? 
Greenhouse gases are substances occurring naturally and from human activities that trap heat in the atmosphere. Some examples are:  Carbon Dioxide (CO2), Methane (CH4) and Nitrous Oxide (N2O).

Why is the mitigation of greenhouse gases important? 
According to the Fifth US Climate Action Report in 2010, greenhouse gas trends show an increase in CO2, but decrease in CH4 and NO2 due to technological, policy and agricultural changes.
Between 1990 and 2007:

Carbon Dioxide increased 20.2%

Methane reduced 5.2%

Nitrous Oxide reduced 1%

Why are greenhouse gases harmful? 
Global warming, climate change, ozone depletion, sea level rise, and biodiversity are all affected directly or indirectly by harmful greenhouse gases. A number of human activities and industrial processes produce greenhouse gases that are harmful to the environment.  Sources: U.S. Energy Intelligence Agency, International Energy Agency, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.


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PROGRAM

How does NC GreenPower work?
NC GreenPower is an independent, nonprofit program that uses voluntary contributions to encourage the development of electricity generated from renewable energy sources and mitigate greenhouse gases. Individuals may contribute as little as $4 per month to add one block of 100 kilowatt-hours of renewable energy to the electric supply or mitigate 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide or carbon dioxide equivalent.

How did NC GreenPower get started?
For more than two years, a committee representing consumers, electric utilities, the environmental community, technology suppliers, various state agencies and Advanced Energy worked together to create a statewide program that would add more renewable energy sources to the state’s power supply. In January 2003, the N.C. Utilities Commission approved the program plan for NC GreenPower.

How is the NC GreenPower program administered? 
NC GreenPower is administered by Advanced Energy, an independent, non-profit, Raleigh-based corporation with more than 30 years of experience working with renewable energy, energy efficiency and the electric utilities. Advanced Energy formed the separate nonprofit entity, NC GreenPower, which is governed by a board of directors with representation from consumers, state government, technology, environmental advocacy groups and electric utilities.

Are other states developing green power programs? How is North Carolina’s program different? 
North Carolina was the first state to develop a statewide, multi-utility plan for a green power pricing program. Other states have programs that are developed by individual utility companies. North Carolina was determined to take a careful and thoughtful approach in order to develop a program that will be most successful.


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SIGNING UP

How can I help? 
You can help protect the environment by contributing to the NC GreenPower program. You may contribute as much as you like, in increments of $4. For renewable energy, $4 adds 100 kWh block of renewable energy to the grid. For carbon offset, $4 mitigates 1,000 pounds of CO2 equivalent. Simply sign up to be a NC GreenPower contributor through your electric utility. For your convenience, the contribution you specify will be added to your electric bill every month.  The utility will forward all contributions in full amount to NC GreenPower. Direct contributions are also accepted. Make checks payable to NC GreenPower and mail to:

NC GreenPower
ATTN: Contributions
909 Capability Drive, Suite 2100
Raleigh, NC 27606-3870

Are there other ways to participate?
Gift cards: NC GreenPower offers a gift card program, which allows purchasers to buy renewable energy or carbon offsets from NC GreenPower in honor or memory of someone special. Gift cards are a great way to celebrate a birthday, holiday, event or to send a personalized message or thank you. Recipients receive a personalized card with your message and the environmental benefits of the gift.

Event offsets: Making your events green powered  are another way to support the program. Organizers can offset the electrical usage and emissions of their event with an equivalent purchase of renewable energy. We now offer carbon offsets to negate the impact of vehicle or airplane travel. Purchasers will receive a certificate to display at their event designating their contribution. Green-powered events are in keeping with your organization’s environmental initiatives and send a powerful message to attendees that every activity has a cost, and conservation can occur at every level.

Where does my contribution go?
Your contribution will go directly to encourage the development of more renewable energy sources in North Carolina. Your carbon offset contribution will support a project that is mitigating carbon dioxide or carbon dioxide equivalent. All participating electric utilities have volunteered to collect their customers’ contributions and send the entire contribution to NC GreenPower. That saves us the cost of administrative fees – a big cost savings for a nonprofit organization like NC GreenPower.

How does my contribution work?
For every $4 contributed to the program for green power, 100 kWh of renewable energy will be subscribed for generation from a generator located in North Carolina. Because the technologies used in the NC GreenPower program are relatively new, the cost of generation is slightly higher than traditional resources. The money contributed to the program will be paid to the independent producers (not utilities) supplying green power to the program. The payment is a premium, over and above the payment they receive from their local utility for power added to the grid. The purpose of the payment is to offset generation costs and help make these projects economically feasible in these early stages of the industry. By helping these projects survive, more renewable energy will be added to our power supply and displace generation that would have been required from traditional, less environmentally-friendly resources. More renewable energy generation means a better environment for all North Carolinians.

For every $4 contributed to a carbon offset, 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide or carbon dioxide equivalent will be mitigated from a mitigator located in the NC/SC/VA area.

Is my contribution tax-deductible?
Because NC GreenPower is a 501(c) 3 tax-exempt nonprofit organization, your donation is federally deductible to the full extent allowed by law. Consult your tax professional for more information.

Does NC GreenPower keep part of my contribution? What other funds are used?
NC GreenPower retains 25% of all contributions to the program to pay for administrative and marketing costs. That translates to $1 out of every $4. This amount is standard in many green power programs across the nation and is necessary to support outreach and educational activities. Additional funds are also derived from corporate contributions,utility participation and from grants for specific program activities.

What if I change my mind about contributing to NCGP?
While we do not refund prior contributions, you may discontinue your contributions at any time.  If you are billed monthly through your utility, you will need to contact them directly to have the billing removed.

I hear people talk about $4 per 100 kilowatt-hours added to the grid. How much electricity is that?
For every $4 contributed to the program, 100 kWh is added to the state’s power supply. That 100 kWh is equivalent to the electricity used by a full-sized refrigerator in a month, or equivalent to about 1/10th of a 2,000 sq. ft. home’s monthly power usage.

What does mitigating 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide or carbon dioxide equivalent accomplish?
The average driver puts 15,000 miles on their vehicle per year. For a mid-sized car, that equates to emitting about 12,000 pounds of carbon dioxide. Larger vehicles release about 20,000 pounds – nearly double that amount. Over a year, just one or two blocks of carbon offset per month can balance the negative impact of emissions from driving a vehicle.

Can $4 really make a difference?
Yes! Just one block of 100 kWh of electricity, priced at $4 per month and subscribed each month for a year, can approximately offset  over 2000 lbs of CO2.    equivalent to planting around 154 trees.  Millions of dollars annually leave North Carolina’s economy to purchase fossil fuel resources from other states for electricity production.

Just one block of carbon offset, or 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent, priced at $4 per month and subscribed each month for a year, can negate the CO2 generated from a mid-sized car over a year, or about 15,000 miles. That’s the environmental equivalent of planting 923 trees!

Can businesses contribute to NC GreenPower? 
Absolutely. We invite any North Carolina business to help us protect the environment while increasing our supply of renewable energy and cleaner air. Large-volume users may contribute a minimum of $250 per month toward renewable energy at $2.50 per block. Carbon offsets are available for $4 per block. Small to mid-size businesses can also contribute at $4 per block of renewable energy or carbon offsets. Simply contact your electric utility representative to sign up.  NC GreenPower also welcomes corporate sponsors at all levels. For more information, call 919-857-9000 / 866-533-NCGP (6247) or email us.

Does NC GreenPower do presentations? Where can I see one?
NC GreenPower makes more than 100 presentations every year on the program at various locations across the state. Presentations are free and many are open to anyone wishing to attend. The main page of our website contains a calendar of upcoming activities. Individuals wishing to schedule a free presentation for groups of 10 or more may do so on the Speakers Bureau page or by calling 866-533-NCGP.


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CUSTOMER FEEDBACK

Are there any updates for current participants available? What’s going on with the program?
To keep costs down and resource consumption at a minimum, NC GreenPower keeps customer mailings to a minimum. But those interested in keeping up with the program may do so through our electronic newsletter. The newsletter contains program updates as well as news and issues that interest participants. Subscribe to the newsletter online to have updates sent monthly to you via email.

How much of our energy supply comes from renewable resources?
Excepting large scale hydroelectric power, less than 1% of our current power supply comes from renewable resources. Despite the small percentage, that number is continuing to grow through the participation of NC GreenPower subscribers. Currently, NC GreenPower contributions support nearly 30 million kilowatt-hours per year, produced by NC GreenPower generators and added to the power grid.


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RESOURCES

Where will the renewable energy come from? 
Electricity from renewable energy is typically generated by small local generators. As with any new undertaking, converting natural resources such as solar PV power and wind into electric energy initially costs more than traditional energy sources. The NC GreenPower program is designed to encourage the development and production of more green energy by growing the availability of green power sources.

What are the resources used to supply the program?
NC GreenPower is working to add renewable energy to the state’s power supply from a variety of resources. Currently, the program accepts generation for its $4 product (what most residential consumers purchase) from solar PV, wind, landfill methane and biomass methane resources put into service after January 1, 1997. The purpose of the product is to add new renewable energy sources to the power grid. For Large Volume purchasers, a slightly different mix is provided, including all of the resources of the $4 product, as well as small hydroelectric power and clean wood waste. The Large Volume product also permits resources put into service prior to 1997, in order to help maintain existing supplies of renewable energy. The Large Volume product is priced at $2.50 per 100 kWh and is available to purchasers of 100 blocks or more per month.

My company would like to have an opportunity to respond to your RFP.  Do you have any sample responses for us to review?
We are dedicated to increasing the renewable generation mixture in North Carolina and have a deep need to increase the amount of green energy being generated in the state.  Unfortunately, in order to keep fairness within the process, we are not able to share any information regarding previous responses to RFPs and are not able to specifically aid any generators in preparing a proposal.

In reviewing proposals we are looking for proposals to be easy to read and easy to compare to other proposals, but not necessarily scripted as each proposed solution will have individual challenges and constraints.  Our goals are to provide the cleanest, most viable solutions at the best price, so we would expect any response to address all of those criteria in the most succinct manner that is reasonable.

How are generators selected?
Most generators are selected through a formal Request for Proposals (RFP) process. When new generation is required to support NC GreenPower participant subscriptions, the program resource committee will issue an RFP for specific resources needed to complete the current resource mix. We are currently accepting bids for renewable energy projects including large solar PV (over 5.0 kW DC Rated) and large wind (over 10.0 kW DC Rated) and all other eligible resources, such as methane gas, biomass and small hydro. Visit our Generator pages for more info. Interested generators are invited to submit proposals detailing their projects, costs, timelines, etc., from which the resource committee will select projects for the program.

An exception to this process involves small solar PV (5.0 kW and under, DC Rated) and wind projects (10.0 kW and under, DC Rated). These installations are permitted to enter an expedited generation process that forgoes the RFP. This expedited process will be available so long as generation from small wind and solar is needed. As with all resources, interconnection must be completed and a power purchase agreement obtained prior to the generator being eligible to participate in NC GreenPower. More information can be found in the Become a Generator section.

Is there a current list of generators to the NC GreenPower program? 
Current generators are listed on the NC GreenPower website and are updated frequently. The list is accessible from the welcome page and also available from each of the resource pages on the site.

I am interested in putting solar power (or wind) on my home. Where can I find information about that?
Start with the “become a generator” pages on our website.  For more detailed information, the NC Clean Technology Center (formerly the NC Solar Center) provides excellent resources for homeowners wishing to learn more about renewable energy technologies for the home. Visit the NC Clean Tech Center website for information about interconnection and other issues, or call 800.33.NCSUN for more information.

Does NC GreenPower provide funds for equipment and technologies?
No, NC GreenPower does not provide loans, grants or any other financial subsidy toward the purchase of renewable energy technologies. The NC GreenPower program only provides financial premiums for energy added to the grid by qualified program generators.

Are there financial incentives available to help offset the purchase of equipment?
Yes. North Carolina offers very attractive financial incentives for individuals and organizations interested in purchasing and installing renewable energy technologies. There are also federal incentives available, as well as a number of lenders offering energy efficient mortgages that can assist in offsetting the initial costs of equipment. For a complete listing of financial incentives available, please visit the DSIRE website (maintained by the N.C. Solar Center).

What are my interconnection options for being a generator?
You have the option of setting up a Power Purchase Agreement with your local utility that can be either “Sell All”, “Sell Excess”, or “Net Metering.”  With all three options, you are tied to the local utility and sell electricity to them when produced and use it as needed.  There are charges for the meter whenever you connect to the grid, and these vary by utility.  NC GreenPower cannot accept net metered projects.

Sell All:  You sell all of the electricity to the power company.  You can receive an incentive for the “Green” part of this electricity, called a Renewable Energy Credit or REC.  Sell Excess:  You use the energy in your home first, and only sell after your loads are met.  Again, you receive an incentive for what you sell.

Net Metering:  There may be special rules that apply based on your local utility.  Again, you can sell electricity to the power company, and REC to another organization, if you are producing excess. However, NC GreenPower does not support net metered renewable energy.

How long can I receive an incentive from NC GreenPower?

NC GreenPower agreements are for 5 years.  As an organization dependent on volunteer contributions, we do not offer contract guarantees.

What happens when my 5 year agreement expires? 

Generation agreements for small solar PV and small wind projects are for one five-year term at a fixed premium. Agreements are available for a total of five years per address and only for the initial participant. We recommend you contact your local electric utility to see what options you have.  Some utilities offer net-metering where you would use the electricity your array produces and receive a credit against your electric bill; other utilities do not offer net-metering and will require that you sell your array’s electricity to them at an avoided cost rate (varies by utility but is in the $0.03 – $0.07/kWh).  Both options will have monthly metering fees charged so it would be best to contact the utility and then do some math to see which is most beneficial to you. You can ask your utility if they have any interest in purchasing your RECs but typically, utilities are only interested in purchasing RECs from very large scale projects.

Large solar, large wind and all other generators that wish to continue their relationship with NC GreenPower can re-bid their projects at the expiration of their initial five-year agreements when an RFP is issued.  They can be bid in for the brokered bid product without an RFP being issued.


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CARBON OFFSETS

What are greenhouse gases and how are they created?
Greenhouse gases are gases that trap heat in the atmosphere. They are created naturally and from human activity. Types of greenhouse gases include: carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), and fluorinated gases.

What are carbon offsets?
A carbon offset is created by a project that mitigates carbon dioxide or carbon dioxide equivalent (greenhouse gas emissions).  Carbon offsets have a monetary value, and can be bought and sold.

Why should I support carbon offset projects?
Carbon offset projects improve regional air quality and the environment. They mitigate harmful greenhouse gases that may contribute to global warming, while supporting jobs and the economy.

Where do carbon offset producers come from? 
NC GreenPower carbon offset projects can be in North Carolina, South Carolina or Virginia. Since the inception of the Carbon Offset offering in 2008, donations have supported both N.C. and S.C. landfills, and N.C. hog farm projects.

What types of projects will be used to supply the carbon offset product?
In addition to other resources, NC GreenPower will take the following types of producers into consideration: Forestry Projects – reforestation and avoiding deforestation; and Methane Collection and Combustion – from farm animals, landfills or other industrial waste.

How are suppliers selected?
In order to ensure that NC GreenPower acquires only reputable and certifiable carbon offsets, NC GreenPower has adopted nine quality criteria for offsets. These criteria are listed below. This is to ensure that NC GreenPower contributors are supporting projects that make a difference and would not otherwise be developed. Projects are certified by a third party that provides accurate and transparent measurement, verification and tracking of greenhouse gas reductions and their inventories.  More detailed information on each of the criteria is available on our Carbon Offset RFP.

  • No RECs as carbon offsets
  • Additionality
  • Accurate Quantification
  • Clarity on Permanence
  • Appropriate Timeline
  • Demonstration of Ownership
  • Serialization and Tracking
  • Verified and Verifiable
  • Net Positive Impact

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VOLUNTEERING

How can I help NC GreenPower promote its message?
The first thing to do is sign up for the program. The more participants, the more renewable energy that can be generated in our state. The second thing is to tell others about the program. NC GreenPower is a consumer-driven program. That means it needs more and more participants to do the most good. So tell someone about the program and how easy it is to make a difference. And if you are interested in volunteer opportunities, the NC GreenPower Speakers Bureau is a great way to put your energies to work to help grow the program. Speakers Bureau volunteers receive training on program particulars and have access to a variety of tools to help share the message of renewable energy and carbon offsets with others. Plus they will join a network of more than 100 other volunteers working across the state to carry NC GreenPower to all communities in North Carolina. Those interested in participating in the Speakers Bureau should call 866-533-NCGP or email speaker@ncgreenpower.org.

I can’t volunteer right now, but want to help promote the program. What can I do?
We are always looking for new ways to connect to the public. If you know of speaking opportunities or events that would benefit the program, please contact NC GreenPower at 866-533-NCGP. And if your company has an employee gift matching program, please contact them to add NC GreenPower to their eligible list of participants. And encourage your employer to become an NC GreenPower sponsor. Becoming a corporate sponsor of NC GreenPower helps our state’s energy and environment and provides important marketing and public relations benefits to the sponsor.

Of course, as always, the best thing you can do is tell someone else about the program and encourage them to visit our website and sign up. www.ncgreenpower.org