Consumers in competitive electricity markets have long been able to choose to have their energy demand met by 100 percent renewable generation, but that option has always come with a higher-than-average price tag – until now.
Starting last week, homeowners in Duquesne Light’s Pittsburgh utility service territory have the option to purchase wind and solar energy generated in Pennsylvania at a 10 percent cheaper cost than the utility’s default rate.
This clean energy breakthrough comes courtesy of Community Energy’s entry into Duquesne’s competitive electricity market. The utility is a leading supplier of renewables in Pennsylvania, having sold the first wind energy products to commercial and industrial consumers in the state and developed many of the state’s first solar and wind farms.
100 percent renewable offerings typically come at a higher cost, but the competitive market allows suppliers to price their electricity at current rates, instead of when the incumbent utility last sought bids for generation to meet its customer demand. In these types of utility markets, consumers have the option to purchase their power from multiple suppliers on the basis of what’s important to them, be it cost or makeup of the utility’s generation portfolio.
Duquesne’s last power auction was two years ago, and reflects the higher market prices of that time while only comprising four percent renewables. Comparatively, Community Energy’s 100 percent wind product reflects the current low wholesale electricity market rates.
“Regular residential customers of Duquesne Light pay 9.89 cents per kilowatt-hour for generation or $69.23 per month (assuming 700 kilowatt-hours) but would pay 8.99 cents per kilowatt-hour for a 100 percent wind power product,” said John Hanger, former Pennsylvania Secretary of Environmental Protection. “Monthly savings are $6.29.”
Pennsylvania is one of the country’s better examples of competitive electricity market success, with more than 1.8 million consumers choosing an alternative supplier since January 2011. Competition also enabled the Cincinnati 100 percent renewables switch earlier this year, and has been cited as a main force behind renewables integration and smart grid innovations in multiple states across the country.
So now, Yinz guys in Pittsburgh don’t have to make the choice between saving money on your electric bills, breathing cleaner air, or supporting renewables. Consumers can make the choice to have all three – in about the same time it takes to order and eat one of Primanti’s famous sandwiches!
Pittsburgh skyline photo via Shutterstock