By: Aidan Das
Renewable energy isn’t just for large, wealthy cities. The uses and benefits of these technologies can be found right here in the rural, college town of Oxford, Ohio. It’s exciting to see how our city has embraced renewable wind energy in recent years.
In October 2017, The City of Oxford renewed the Electrical Aggregation Program contract with AEP Energy. This is the same program the city enrolled in back in 2015. The contract allows residents of Oxford to get renewable electricity for a cheaper price. AEP allows energy to be purchased in bulk, and their rates are based on the market rather than self-regulated rates like Duke Energy, Oxford’s local utility, has in place.
This November, all customers that are able to participate in the program should receive a letter from the city describing the program. These people will automatically be enrolled in the program, unless they reply to the city stating they would like to opt-out. If they opt-out, they will then need to enroll in the traditional energy plan (using nonrenewable energy) or switch to Oxford’s local utility provider.
Customers using the traditional plan will be paying 5.101 cents per kWh, while those using renewables will be paying 5.156 per kWh. This marks a 10.9 percent decrease in the price of renewable energy from 2015. This shows that renewable energy is becoming more competitive with traditional energy in terms of pricing.
So how does renewable energy from states like Texas, Iowa, and Illinois end up in Oxford? This is done through Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs). RECs let customers purchase their electricity knowing that 100% of it is matched by a renewable energy source.
All energy on the grid is not labeled by how it was made, whether it is renewable or nonrenewable. Therefore, RECs are important because they create a way to track who is buying into renewable sources. AEP purchases RECs from companies producing energy from wind that match the amount of energy being used by its customers. This enables support for places that generate renewable resources- even far away locations.
Oxford’s local utility provider, Duke Energy, has a similar program called GoGreen, in which residents can purchase “‘blocks’ of green power” for a certain price each month to match the amount of energy they use. It is worth noting that this is not part of the plan that the City of Oxford is enrolled in.
The steps taken by energy companies like this to give their customers options to support renewable energy sources, even when customers may not have direct access, is an important step for the future of renewable resources. By supporting renewable energy companies through methods such as RECs, this may allow industry providers to expand and directly serve more residents and businesses, thus reducing consumption of fossil fuels. With a small town like Oxford implementing renewable forms of energy consumption into its city plans, an example is set for other towns and cities to take similar action.
Cover photo courtesy of Pixabay