Green Power: Environmental Benefits
When you buy green power, you are essentially paying for
the social and environmental benefits that renewable energy
creates. Every form of electricity has some impact. Different types of
green power have different social and environmental benefits.
Zero-emission green power, from sources such as wind,
solar and hydropower, offers a greater benefit for air quality than
other forms of power production. Combustion power plants of all kinds
emit carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxide. Many
traditional facilities also release mercury and other
pollutants. Scientists believe that carbon dioxide emissions
contribute to the global climate changes Maine is experiencing. Sulfur
dioxide is the primary cause of acid rain, while nitrogen oxides pose
a significant health concern through their contribution to ground-level
Green power protects our water resources. Air pollutants
enter the water cycle through rainfall. Zero-emission green power
sources reduce pollutants in the air, thereby safe-guarding water
supplies from the effects of contaminated rainwater. For example, fish
throughout Maine contain mercury which was originally released into
the environment as air pollution. Hydropower plants obviously divert
water from its natural flow, but so do combustion power plants and
nuclear power plants, which require water to produce steam. Solar and
wind facilities use very little water per unit of energy produced.
Green-e is a voluntary certification program for renewable
energy products. Green-e certification helps ensure that green power
delivers the environmental benefits it promises. There is no national
standard definition for "green power". The most commonly used set of
definitions has been developed by the San Francisco-based Center for
Resource Solutions for its Green-e certification program. The Green-e
program utilizes regionally-based stakeholder processes to determine
the characteristics of the renewable resources for which an environmental
premium is warranted.
The CRS Green-e definitions and standards have been followed by
generators to develop renewable electricity products that have been
certified by Green-e. These standards have also been adopted by the
national EPA Green Power Partnership. Any institution seeking
recognition under that Partnership must ensure that the electricity
they procure meets those standards.
Climate Cool ™ is a brand and certification program offered by the Climate Neutral Network. Participants in CNN’s programs assess their climate impact then commit to a program of CNN-certifi ed actions to address and mitigate that footprint. Organizations that make progress on their commitments to become “climate neutral” are entitled to brand their products with the “Climate Cool™” brand. CNN’s standards and certifications are advised by a panel of advisors from a cross-section of leading national environmental groups and participating companies both large and small.
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