Dear Dot: Is Green Electricity More Expensive?

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Dear Dot,

How green is my electricity and is that why it's so expensive? 

–Roberto, San Diego

Dear Roberto,

The forces that keep our lights on can often seem shrouded in mystery. But it’s actually not mysterious at all. All the data you could want on the greenness of your electricity is a few clicks away. 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a handy dandy calculator that will tell you just what’s powering the lights in your home. 

Just select your eGRID (Emissions and Generation Resource Integrated Database) subregion, and the site will generate information about the fuel mix used to generate electricity in your area. It populates this data into a straightforward chart and allows you to compare with the national average. 

In the CAMX subregion, for example, which covers most of California, solar accounts for 18.9 percent of the fuel mix, whereas solar only accounts for 2.8 percent of the fuel mix nationally. 

You can also enter your monthly energy usage and the calculator will tell you your estimated emissions of CO2, SO2, and NOx. 

Some states and counties share breakdowns on the sources powering their electrical grid online. Again, since you live in California, check out the Clean Energy Commission’s most recent data

Renewable energy currently generates about 20 percent of U.S. electricity — a number growing each year!

But while all this greening of the grid is cause for celebration (lower carbon emissions! Cleaner air! Energy provided by the heavens instead of hell!), it’s perfectly reasonable to want to know the price tag of all this green goodness. Is this burgeoning green energy industry responsible for driving up energy prices? Turns out, high prices are one more thing we can blame on our reliance on the fossil fuel industry — specifically, in this case, natural gas. Natural gas accounts for 40 percent of U.S. electricity generation, and since the Russian invasion of Ukraine and ensuing sanctions against Russia, natural gas has become much more scarce and much more expensive. 

Another contributor to high energy prices is outdated infrastructure and the cost to energy companies to repair it.  

Experts are actually recommending expanding renewable energy as a solution to high energy prices, as it is far cheaper to generate. 

Here’s hoping that your energy, and your wallet, get greener! 

Electrically, 

Dot

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