Nothing is easy about owning a home, I can tell you that. That's why no way did I believe my neighbor when he shared with me as we were rolling out the garbage cans one Saturday morning, that he found an "easy" way to switch to renewable energy sources for his home. There were no giant solar panels installed on his roof. No wind turbine sprouting from his backyard. He hadn't switched from our local energy provider. I was sure this was just another way for him to sneak in something great about himself, like the time he told me all about his trip to France. But frankly, I, too, had been wanting to switch to green alternatives. I made mindful choices when shopping and for my health, why couldn't I do the same for my home? It felt like I was routinely paying my utility bill without having any say in the matter. While I knew installing solar panels was an option, they didn't feel realistic, the scope of the job scared me just as much as the cost. So, I let him tell me about his experience with Arcadia Power, a free service that connects homeowners and renters to clean, low-cost energy solutions.
At first, I didn't understand how it worked. He went on to explain the basics of electricity. (And I mean basics, we were standing in our pajamas.) No matter how electricity is created—wind, sunlight, burning coal—it all looks the same when it reaches our national energy grid, and it all travels through the same power lines. Arcadia Power monitors your energy usage and matches 50% of it with clean alternatives. It does this by buying energy from wind and solar farms on your behalf. This then gets mixed in with the nation's energy creation and sent through the existing power lines to your home. You'll, in turn, receive something called a REC, a Renewable Energy Credit, which proves you helped to create that much clean energy. It's that simple.
Except it wasn't. I didn't want any part of Arcadia installing anything and dealing with the hassle of contacting my utility provider, which was not the best for customer service. At this point, my neighbor took out his phone and showed me how, through a few steps, I could easily link my current utility account. This would allow Arcadia Power to monitor my account and the market for me, and automatically get me lower rates than the utility in my area as they become available. He assured me that the whole process only takes 2 minutes, and all of this would be visible on my dashboard— And how much would this cost me? I interrupted. "Nothing," he said, and went on to boast how by doing this, he saved a significant amount off his bill in his first month. And nothing had changed. He didn't have to "do anything." Arcadia did all of the work.
But why would Arcadia Power do this for free? My neighbor had felt the same way and learned that learned that when Arcadia Power is able to find you a lower rate, they receive a small percentage of the savings from the energy provider, but not from you.
What about all of our storms? I reminded him, noting all the times in our hilly neighborhood we'd lost power with downed trees. He stressed to me, again, how nothing would change. Our local utility company would still own and operate our power lines, so I would simply call them with an outage as before. "It really is that easy to sign up for green power while getting a cheaper rate," he said squinting in the sunlight, "if only tracking flight prices were the same."
At that point, I ran back inside. I didn't want to hear any more of his vacation stories. But I did pour my coffee, go on to the Arcadia Power site, and join.