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How to Buy Green Power: Supply

When you pay your electric bill, you are buying two things: 1) a supply of electricity; and 2) the delivery of electricity to you over a transmission and distribution grid. Maine consumers can now choose who supplies electricity, but not who delivers it.

Under deregulation, the electric utilities continue to deliver electricity to all customers within a geographic area. They manage the grid. However, they no longer supply electricity to the grid.

"Competitive electricity suppliers" supply electricity to the grid for their customers. Customers who do not choose a competitive supplier are on the Standard Offer.

A benefit of deregulation is that Maine consumers don't have to accept the Standard Offer; they can buy electricity supply based on their own social and environmental goals. Under Maine's "renewable portfolio standard", all electricity suppliers (including the Standard Offer supplier) must include a minimum of 30% renewable or efficient energy in their generation mix. Since 2000, despite the renewable portfolio standard, fossil fuel and out-of-state nuclear power plants have been generating most of the Standard Offer electricity supplying Maine's grid. Starting in 2003, however, Maine consumers have an increasing array of green electricity products - see Maine's Green Power Menu. Several suppliers now offer green electricity supply products with varying percentages of their renewable generation coming from Maine renewable energy facilities.

When you switch to a supplier that offers green power, you may pay more on your utility bill (a "green premium") to ensure that electricity supplying the grid serving your region is generated by cleaner and more sustainable sources. As demand for clean energy grows, we hope that the cost of renewable electricity generation will become more competitive, so a cost premium will no longer be necessary.


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