Power Scorecard: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: What is the most important thing I should look for when choosing a new electric company?

A: The amount of renewable energy sources in the mix, the amount of new renewables in the mix, the amount and type of nonrenewable resources in the mix. For more information, check our page on how the Power Scorecard works.

Q: How can I be sure that only clean power is delivered to my home?

A: You can’t, because that’s not how it works. The clean power you choose goes into the “grid” and mixes with all the other power; the “juice” you get is part of that mix. But a company that sells you clean power is required to spend your money on the energy sources you’ve chosen. And as more and more people use their buying power to choose greener electric power, more and more companies will invest in clean, renewable energy sources.

Q: If all electricity comes from my state’s “power grid”, what difference does it make if I choose?

A: If you want to reduce the impact your electricity use has on the environment, the worst choice you can make is no choice. No choice means you will receive the current mix of power resources — which is dirtier than any of the energy supplies we review. By choosing cleaner power, you’ll be sending a message to companies that they should invest more heavily in less polluting energy sources.

Q: How do power plants affect the environment?

A: Power plants raise air, land and water quality issues. Check out Power Scorecard’s “The Environmental Issues of Electricity Production” to find out more.

Q: What can I do in my home/office to cut power use?

A: Electricity consumers should always remember: the cleanest kilowatt is the kilowatt never used. Consumers who implement energy conservation measures in their homes and offices will recognize the dual benefits of reduced electricity bills and reduced environmental impacts. Check out the Power Scorecard’s “Twenty Things You Can Do to Conserve Energy.

Q: How much do power plants contribute to air pollution/climate change overall?

A: The generation of electric power produces more pollution than any other single industry in the United States. The most recent (1998) data shows the U.S. electricity industry was responsible for:

  • 67% of sulfur dioxide emissions that contribute to acid rain
  • 25% of NOx emissions that contribute to urban smog
  • 40% of carbon emissions that contribute to global climate change

Q: Why is green power becoming available now?

A: The electricity industry in the United States has begun a process of restructuring similar in some respects to that of the long-distance telephone industry. Until relatively recently, long-distance customers were forced to buy from the monopoly; they had no choice of supplier, service or price. Similarly, electricity consumers have had no choice but to purchase their electricity from their regional utility and pay for whatever type of generating resources the utility chooses. States are now beginning to restructure the utility industry and increasingly will allow consumers to choose suppliers and, most importantly, to choose the source of their electricity.

Q: What is the “grid”?

A: The “grid” consists of the large transmission wires and tall metal towers one sees from the highway. It moves electricity from generating plants to “substations,” where it is transferred to distribution networks, which consist of the small wires that typically run on wooden poles to homes and businesses.

Q: If I choose green power, how reliable will my service be?

A: Power will get to your home the same way it does today. Green power will be delivered through the same “grid” system used by your current utility. The reliability of power delivery will be unchanged.

Q: How much will green power cost?

A: In general, there is a small premium cost for most green power offerings, however, the ultimate cost to the consumer depends on the rate charged for the product, multiplied by the customer’s total usage. The Power Scorecard offers current price comparisons of the different energy products offered in your service territory. See the ratings.

Q: When will the Power Scorecard ratings be available in my state?

A: The Power Scorecard aims to provide environmental quality ratings of products offered wherever consumers have the opportunity to choose among competing electricity service providers. The Power Scorecard was introduced first in two states: Pennsylvania and California. Ratings were subsequently discontinued in California when retail choice was halted there.

In 2002, ratings were extended to include products available in New Jersey. In the future, the Power Scorecard will provide ratings for other states as well, perhaps one or more of the following states where retail choice is now available: Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, and Texas.

Check this page periodically for news on specific plans for offering the Power Scorecard ratings in new locations.