Benefits of Purchasing Renewable Energy

According to the EIA, renewable energy, including hydropower and other renewables accounted for 8.8% of total U.S. energy generation in 2004. In recent years, however, there has been considerable growth in the use of renewable energy. Many state and local governments, for instance, have turned to renewable energy as a way to reduce local air pollution, reduce generation of greenhouse gases and/or stimulate the local economy. See below for more information.
Meet Greenhouse Gas Reduction Goals
In lieu of the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol by the United States, many public agencies and private businesses have voluntarily set greenhouse gas reduction goals. San Diego, for example, set a 15% GHG reduction goal in 2002 in partnership with the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI). As of February 2006, 208 mayors have signed onto The US Mayors Climate Protection Agreement. These signatories have agreed to meet or exceed the Kyoto Protocol’s 7% GHG reduction goals (in comparison to 1990 levels) by 2012. For more information, go to the Pew Center on Global Change’s State and Local News page. Currently, 27 states have Climate Action Plans to reduce greenhouse gases1.

Industries and private businesses have taken initiative and partnered with the EPA Climate Leaders program to set emissions reduction goals and to monitor progress by reporting to the EPA.
Meet Air Quality Goals
Since 1990, the Federal Government, through the EPA, has set national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) designed to regulate exposure to a list of harmful criteria pollutants. Many jurisdictions are classified as in “non attainment” and have not met these goals. Shifting to renewable energy may significantly reduce sulfur and nitrogen oxides, particularly in areas surrounding or downwind of energy production facilities. For a list of non attainment areas, visit

In 2004 Montgomery County included its wind purchase as an air pollution reduction strategy in the region's air quality plan, making it the first time the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recognized wind power as a way of meeting federal air quality requirements2. For more information on this and other examples, see the EPA’s Green Power Partnership site.
Create Exportable Technology and Jobs
In the 1980’s, the US was a technological leader in solar and wind energy technology, but in the intervening years, other countries have taken the lead on many renewable technologies. A national commitment to renewable energy could allow the US to rapidly regain a position at the forefront3. Many believe that the development of domestic renewable resources could reinvigorate the local economy while helping the U.S. become more energy independent.

For example, a report published by faculty in the Energy and Resources Group and the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California Berkeley (Kammen et al. 2004 - ) that summarized 13 independent reports on job creation and renewable energy concluded that renewable energy generates more jobs than fossil-fuel energy for each unit of energy produced. Renewable energy operations have the potential to generate three to eleven times the number of jobs created by fossil-fuel operations, with solar and biomass exhibiting the highest potentials.