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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.

Clean Air

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 ozone formation.

Water Resources

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.

Certification

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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