Basic Service - You are receiving basic service for your electricity if you have not elected to have a third-party supplier. This means that your electric distribution company is also providing your energy.
Biomass - Energy produced from naturally replenishable resources such as plant matter, agricultural and forestry waste, and landfill gas. The only “biomass” resources that New England GreenStart members support are landfill gas from Chicopee, MA and an anaerobic digester in Rutland, MA that uses cow manure as its primary feedstock. See “Cow Power” for more.
“Bundled” Renewable Electricity Product – A product where the energy commodity (the electricity itself) and the Green Attributes (in the form of Renewable Energy Certificates, or RECs) are matched together and sold as one unit.
“Certificate-based” or “off-bill” Renewable Electricity Product – A product where the Green Attributes, or characteristics, are sold independently from the energy commodity (in the form of Renewable Energy Certificates, or RECs).
“Cow power” – We sometimes refer to anaerobic digesters that use cow manure as their primary feedstock as cow power Anaerobic bacteria thrive in the oxygen-free environment, resulting in the decomposition of the organic materials in cow manure and the production of primarily carbon dioxide and methane. So rather than escaping into the atmosphere as a harmful greenhouse gas, the methane is captured and combusted for energy .
Customer Charge - The fee you pay to receive service from your distribution company. This charge is fixed, regardless of the energy you consume in that month.
Deregulation - In the electric industry, “deregulation” (also called “restructuring”) describes the transition from utilities playing a monopolistic role (controlling all aspects of electricity supply and delivery), to a state in which other companies can participate in the market for generating and supplying electricity. After a region’s electric industry is restructured, electric services are separated into generation, transmission and distribution. You have the ability to choose the generation provider of your electric service. Whether you choose a competitive supplier or not, your current electric utility will continue to be responsible for the delivery of your electricity. Both Rhode Island and Massachusetts deregulated their electric industries in 1998.
Distribution - The transport of electricity by your distribution company across local lines and into your home.
Distribution Company - The company that provides your electric transmission and distribution services. Your distribution company will automatically function as your electricity supplier unless you choose an alternative company. It is your distribution company that is responsible for maintaining local power lines and restoring your power during outages.
Electric Grid – The network of power shared throughout New England. Generators from all over the region feed power into this grid, and energy is drawn out on an as needed basis. Since our electricity is based on a regional mix, the electricity that is actually delivered to your home is determined by which power generators are located closest to you.
Generation or "supply"-The power that is generated to meet your electricity needs. Power can be generated from resources such as coal or oil burning or from renewable resources such as wind and solar.
Green Attributes – See also “Renewable Energy Certificates”
The environmental characteristics of a renewable energy resource. For every unit of energy that is generated in New England there is a corresponding certificate which describes the characteristics of the power source such as emissions data, when the facility began operating, etc. For renewable energy resources, these attributes hold extra value, and are usually referred to as RECs
Green-e –The Green-e program was established by the non-profit Center for Resource Solutions to provide information and an objective standard for consumers to compare electricity products, and to verify that consumers get what they pay for. Green-e is a voluntary certification program available nationwide. For more information on Green-e certification requirements, call 1-888-63-GREEN or log on to www.green-e.org.
Green/Renewable Electricity–Energy that is produced from naturally replenishable or infinite sources such as the sun, wind and water are considered renewable resources. Renewable electricity generation has a lower impact on the environment than fossil fuel and nuclear power facilities because they emit little or no emissions, they do not need to be mined or extracted, and do not produce harmful radioactive waste.
Kilowatt (kW) - A measure of power - one kilowatt is equal to 1,000 Watts or the power drawn by ten 100-Watt light bulbs.
Kilowatt-hour (kWh) - A measure of your electricity consumption. One kilowatt-hour is equivalent to 1,000 watt hours or running a 100 Watt light bulb for 10 hours. (10 hours*100 Watts = 1 kWh)
Landfill Gas – “Municipal solid waste contains significant portions of organic materials that produce a variety of gaseous products when dumped, compacted, and covered in landfills. Anaerobic bacteria thrive in the oxygen-free environment, resulting in the decomposition of the organic materials and the production of primarily carbon dioxide and methane. Carbon dioxide is likely to leach out of the landfill because it is soluble in water. Methane, on the other hand, which is less soluble in water and lighter than air, is likely to migrate out of the landfill. Landfill gas energy facilities capture the methane (the principal component of natural gas) and combust it for energy.”
“LIHI’s mission is to reduce the impacts of hydropower dams through market incentives. LIHI does this through its Hydropower Certification Program, a voluntary certification program designed to help identify and reward hydropower dams that are minimizing their environmental impacts. Just as an organic label can help consumers choose the foods and farming practices they want to support, the LIHI certification program can help energy consumers choose the energy and hydropower practices they want to support.
In order to be certified by the Institute, a hydropower facility must meet criteria in the following eight areas:
- river flows,
- water quality,
- fish passage and protection,
- watershed protection
- threatened and endangered species protection,
- cultural resource protection,
- recreation, and
- facilities recommended for removal.
The criteria standards are typically based on the most recent, and most stringent, mitigation measures recommended for the dam by expert state and federal resource agencies, even if those measures aren't a requirement for operating. A hydropower Facility meeting all eight certification criteria will be certified by LIHI, and will be able to use this certification when marketing power to consumers.”
Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Charges - Fees that pay for programs to help you lower your electricity bills and reduce the environmental impacts of your energy use. (In Massachusetts and Rhode Island, these charges currently amount to less than $0.50/month for the average household.) The Renewable Energy charge is levied on all customers served by a major electric utility, and is separate from any New England GreenStart or New England Wind charges.
Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) – See also “Green Attributes”
“Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) are created when a renewable energy facility generates electricity. Each unique certificate represents all of the environmental attributes or benefits of a specific quantity of renewable generation, namely the benefits that everyone receives when conventional fuels, such as coal, nuclear, oil, or gas, are displaced. What you pay for when you buy renewable energy certificates is the benefit of displacing other non-renewable sources from the electric grid.”
The certificate itself is the “authorized document or other representation (electronic, paper, etc.) that represents the bundle of attributes* associated with the generation of a defined amount of electricity (usually one megawatt-hour [MWh]) at a renewable energy facility. The bundle of attributes has been separated from the renewable electrical energy and, as such, the REC acts like a form of currency that allows the environmental attributes of renewable energy generation to be separated from the electricity commodity and to be sold as a separate product. Depending upon the facility, the REC will embody various attributes with varying quantitative values.”
* Attributes are the “[d]escriptive or performance characteristics of a particular generation resource. The characteristics of renewables and other generating types (both positive and negative) not reflected in the price of power are referred to as externalities and include environmental, economic, and social characteristics.”
Source: From Center for Resource Solutions, creator of Green-e certification, http://green-e.org/dictionary.shtml)
Restructuring – Sometimes called “deregulation,” this describes the transition from utilities playing a monopolistic role (controlling all aspects of electricity supply and delivery), to a state in which other companies can participate in the market for generating and supplying electricity. After a region’s electric industry is restructured, electric services are separated into generation, transmission and distribution. You have the ability to choose the generation provider of your electric service. Whether you choose a competitive supplier or not, your current electric utility will continue to be responsible for the delivery of your electricity.
Small Hydroelectric – Electricity produced from the movement of water, such as the flow of rivers. “Small” hydroelectric facilities are those which are under 30 MW in size. Small hydroelectric facilities are generally considered to have lower environmental impacts than their larger counterparts.
Solar Energy –Electricity produced from the sun. Solar electricity, produced by solar photovoltaic systems, is unlimited in supply and produces no emissions.
Transmission - The transport of electricity from the electricity generating facilities across high voltage lines to your local network of lower-voltage electricity distribution wires.