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How to Find and Choose a Renewable Energy Supplier for Your Home

In states with deregulated energy markets, finding a renewable energy supplier is fairly simple. The nuts and bolts of those plans are not.

Sam Becker Contributor
Sam Becker is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in and on CNBC, Fortune, USA Today, Business Insider, and more. Sam is also the author of the growing finance and strategy-focused newsletter, "Not Pretty, Not Rich."
Sam Becker
5 min read
Wind turbines lit from behind by the northern lights.

If you can choose your energy provider, you might be able to choose one selling renewable power.

Anton Petrus/Getty Images

If you want to power your home with renewable energy but can't afford rooftop solar panels, you might feel a bit stuck.

Renewable energy is growing in the United States, and it might already be coursing through the wires, powering the appliances and lights in your home. As of 2023, solar energy generation provided roughly 5% of the country's electricity while wind energy, which makes up another 11%, and other renewables are also growing.

You don't have to wait for renewable energy to come to you. If you live in a state with a deregulated energy market (where you can choose your energy supplier), you might be able to find one that deals specifically in renewable energy and offers green energy plans. Here's what a green energy plan is and how you can find one.

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What is a green energy plan?

A green energy plan is more or less what it sounds like. It's a home energy plan that utilizes or otherwise supports renewable generation sources. You might find differing definitions for renewable energy, but the term generally encompasses sources such as solar, wind, hydropower, geothermal and biomass.

Once electricity is on the grid, you can't keep green renewable and fossil fuel electricity separate. How do you know you're getting the renewable power you paid for? 

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"There's no such thing as a 'green' electron," said Jeff Swenerton, communications director at the Center for Resource Solutions, which audits and certifies green energy programs. "So, the way that renewable energy is transacted in the United States is through renewable energy certificates."

Renewable energy certificates represent a sort of property rights that are associated with renewable energy generation. They're used to track and account for renewable generation, and a new REC is created for every megawatt of electricity generated and transmitted to the grid from a renewable source. If you hold the REC, you get to claim that megawatt of renewable energy, regardless of whether those electrons actually get to you.

"You can sell RECs separate from the electricity," said Frank Caliva, the national spokesperson for the Retail Energy Supply Association. "You're effectively paying the supplier for the benefit of having added or supported renewable energy." 

Green energy plans utilizing RECs are the "base product that many suppliers offer," Caliva said.  

Gexa Energy's Eco Saver Plus, which you'll find in Texas, for example, advertises 100% renewable energy if you enroll in that plan. It's not guaranteed to be renewable energy flowing through your meter. That 100% renewable energy is represented through RECs.

Other plan types, such as some offered by utility companies, typically involve consumers opting to pay a higher rate for renewable energy. Some utilities also offer time-of-use plans that factor in renewable sources during times of peak generation, like the sunniest parts of the day.

What's available to you will depend on where you live and what local suppliers and utilities are offering in your area. 

How to find out if your electricity comes from renewable sources

It's possible to get a breakdown of where your home's electricity is coming from. 

The easiest way to get the breakdown specific to your home's energy plan is to contact your utility. Many make information related to energy generation public. 

"All states require suppliers to have disclosure statements that should tell you how much of your power is coming from renewable sources," says Caliva. "You could also find out the mix of the electricity on the grid in the area you live in -- each of the wholesale markets publishes the 'system mix,' showing the mix of generation sources."

You can contact them directly to get the specifics about the percentage of electricity generated from renewable sources. You can also use the Power Profiler tool from the Environmental Protection Agency to get a breakdown of your energy mix (although the most recent data is from 2021).

In deregulated energy choice markets, like Texas, it's important to check the fact sheet or electricity facts label on any energy plan before enrolling. The EFL will show how much renewable energy (if any) that the plan is sourcing. 

sample EFL infographic

Most EFLs will look something like this. Line 14 details the level of renewable energy on the grid.

Revolution Energy/Screenshot by CNET

Finding the right renewable energy plan for you

Finding the right renewable energy plan will depend on your needs and preferences. Here are some things to consider when choosing a plan.

  • Rates: Bare-bones costs may be the deciding factor for you and, depending on your specific market, there may be cheaper and more expensive plans available.
  • Base charges: A base fee can make or break your energy bill. Some plans add or remove base charges if you go above or below certain usage thresholds. Make sure to read the fine print within the EFL to know if any plan -- renewable or not -- has fees that penalize you for your usage profile. 
  • Contract terms: Pay attention to the contract length, especially if you're in a short-term living situation or renting and may move in the near future. 
  • Fixed or variable rate: Fixed rates remain steady during the time of agreement and provide stability, but aren't always the cheapest. Variable rates can fluctuate with market conditions. They usually don't require a contract but come with price volatility risks. For more details on the differences between the two plan types, CNET has a guide.

How to switch to a renewable energy plan

If you live in a state with a deregulated energy market, switching your energy plan is likely a fairly straightforward task, assuming you're not locked into a contract. Swenerton suggests starting with your own utility and broadening your search from there.

"Look for an opt-in green power program offered by your utility," he said, which will likely be listed on the utility's website. If one isn't available, he suggests using a plan comparison site (deregulated states such as New York and Texas have them) to see what renewable plans are available in your area.

"Each state has a different enrollment process," Caliva said, but consumers should "do the research, determine what makes sense for them, then contact the [renewable plan] supplier. The supplier will handle the back-end conversion with the utility."

If you're interested in supporting green energy production more broadly, it can be important to take the steps to adopt a renewable energy plan for your home. It sends a message to the market that consumer demand is increasing, Swenerton said.

"Consumers need to sign up for green power programs offered by their utilities," Swenerton said. "It sends a strong signal that they prefer a greener mix, and it helps make renewable energy more financially viable for the utility."

Renewable energy supplier FAQs

Which energy plan is best for me?

The energy plan that is right for you will depend on several factors, including the size of your home, your energy usage patterns and your specific preferences in terms of electrical generation. 

What is a renewable energy certificate?

A renewable energy certificate is an instrument that is associated with renewable energy generation. RECs are used to track and account for renewable generation on the broader electrical grid.

Can I change my energy plans if I change my mind?

It depends. Some plans have grace periods, but if you've signed a contract you may not be able to switch. The specific rules depend on state regulations and the plan's agreed-upon terms. It's a good idea to know all the details of an energy plan by reading the fine print within the EFL before enrolling.