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The relation between electricity companies and consumers has changed in recent years with an ever-growing demand for green energy. In the past, companies have sought to expand their sustainability offerings simply to meet quotas, but are now increasingly finding that their customers are actively requesting sustainable energy. This demand has sparked an increase in production of renewable energy, with companies taking particular interest in areas where it can be readily generated.

The problem with this comes in areas with established energy offerings that aren’t willing to change their tactics to allow for renewable energy. Many electricity companies see renewables as a threat to their bottom line. This has started to change with the advent of the green tariff, a utility program that incentivizes renewable procurement by allowing customers to directly request sustainable forms of energy.

Green tariffs involve not only utility providers, but individual energy projects as well. Though the electricity in question can be sourced directly by providers, they are also able to enter into agreements with independent projects to supply energy to customers. The system allows both utilities and customers to pay less for electricity over time, and many companies are attracted to the lower overhead associated with renewable energy in the long term.

The demand for programs like green tariffs comes with rising electricity prices across the nation. Often, the interest in green tariffs comes from businesses rather than individuals. Around 60% of Fortune 500 companies have plans in place to fuel their organizations with renewables, and many plan on using the sort of local energy that these tariffs make provisions for. In this way, green tariffs are offering utility companies the chance to transition to a business model that better caters to the desires of companies looking to adopt new energy systems.

With utilities facing pressure to reduce their carbon footprint, these programs come at an opportune time for those willing to take advantage. Still, green tariffs remain somewhat experimental, with a few factors to consider before unanimously hailing them as the future of consumer energy. The level at which the customer is involved varies wildly, with basic users simply subscribing to part of a renewable energy project and more involved users entering into negotiations about purchasing power. It’s difficult to say that green tariffs are, by any stretch of the imagination, “one size fits all.” This is made even more difficult by the wildly divergent standards of technology for renewable facilities, and the potential for loss if excess power cannot be used.

Still, the often lower long term price point is appealing for companies looking to be involved in the process. In the future, utility companies will likely expand their renewable offerings and contracts with independent energy producers, allowing interested companies to shop around for a renewable plan that best fits their needs. Additionally, utilities serving as a broker can hasten the ability of companies to access renewable energy in states where limitations can cause the process to take years to complete.

Green tariffs may be far from universal between customers, but their recent surge in popularity demonstrates a willingness among both customers and utility companies to integrate renewable energy into communities. It’s the start of a new local approach to energy, incentivizing all parties to produce more sustainable energy at lower prices.