Confused by Green Energy Options? Let Congress Sort It Out for You

What if everyone, not just environmentalists or those who can afford it, could switch to wind- and solar-powered electricity?

One of the most effective ways to live a more environmentally friendly life is to start paying for clean electricity. But it’s complicated: Choosing an electricity provider that sources from wind or solar generally costs more than buying into the energy mix most utilities provide, and not everyone can afford to take the hit on their electricity bill month after month. Those who can then must choose which option they like: 100 percent wind? 50-50 wind and natural gas? This solar-loving company or that one?

Last spring in New York City, I was visiting an innovation-focused festival with a friend when a man waved us over to his booth in an effort to convince us to switch our bills over to his wind-based electricity company. My friend explained that she’d already switched, but the salesman kept pressing her: Which company? Oh, that one? They’re not entirely honest, you know. We’re much better. By the time we escaped, both of us were confused, a little disturbed, and ready to jump back into the waiting arms of ConEdison’s default electricity option. Wouldn’t it be better, we agreed, if we didn’t have to worry about where our electricity came from?

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