Demystifying Renewable Energy Certificates

Published on Thursday, 24 October 2019

Now more than ever, the market is realizing the value of purchasing renewable energy. But how can a company or consumer be sure the electricity they’re drawing from the power grid is from renewable resources? That’s where RECs come in.  Renewable Energy Certificates, also known as RECs, are a hot topic of conversation, and confusion. What are they? How are they produced? How are they tracked?  Now more than ever, consumers and companies are realizing the value of purchasing renewable energy. But without a solar or wind farm directly powering their home or business, how can these consumers and companies be sure the electricity they’re drawing from the power grid is from renewable resources? That’s where RECs come in.  Producing Energy in a Green Way  In most cases, utilities are not able to send renewable energy directly to a home or business. In fact, once energy is on the grid, you can’t distinguish its source. That makes RECs an important instrument in ensuring more green energy is flowing to the grid – sometimes referred to as “greening the grid.”    Each REC represents a specific amount of electricity – one megawatt-hour – produced by a renewable energy resource and delivered to the power grid. When an energy company produces power, they get certificates that can then be sold or given to other organizations.   RECs act as the currency of the renewable energy market. They allow buyers to choose clean energy and reduce their carbon footprints. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, “RECs are the accepted legal instrument through which renewable energy generation and use claims are substantiated in the U.S. renewable energy market. RECs are supported by several different levels of government, regional electricity transmission authorities, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and trade associations.”   While RECs don’t directly deliver green energy to a physical destination, they do support the development of new renewable energy projects, adding even more sustainable power to the grid. This ripple effect underscores the impacts and benefits of buying renewable energy promoted by the Center for Resource Solutions, a national nonprofit that creates policy and market solutions to advance sustainable energy. By buying more, entering into long-term commitments, and supporting new facilities, consumers are sending a critically important signal across the energy market – they want easy, affordable access to reliable renewable energy sources.

Creating Impact 1 MWh at a Time

At Enel Green Power, we operate more than one hundred power plants across North America, producing power from renewable sources like the sun and wind. Enel Green Power’s RECs are uniquely numbered and tracked with data attributes, so our partners that purchase them know the power they're using is being matched and generated by clean, sustainable energy. Once purchased, owners of RECs can choose how to retire them, whether it be designating them for the equivalent energy usage of the city of Atlanta or Gillette Stadium, for example.. This allows the owner to confidently claim that their business is powered by renewable energy.

Sustainability is embedded across Enel Green Power’s entire value chain, from greenfield development to long-term operations. That’s why we power 100% of the facilities managed by Enel Green Power in the United States with renewable energy certificates.

Enel Green Power is proud to be a leading provider of renewables to corporate customers across the nation. We are powering the smart energy revolution, one megawatt-hour at a time.