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Here's how Renewable Energy Plans work in Texas

The use of renewable energy in the state depends on how many people pay for it.

HOUSTON — On top of this house on the west side of Houston, you’ll find solar panels. Inside the 1,500 square foot home, you’ll find a very happy Bobby Marinov.

“I am very environmentally conscious,” he said.

Which is also why Marinov switched from a traditional electricity plan to a renewable one.  

“I’m not skimping at all,” he said. “We keep it at the same temperature throughout the year.”

But going green at home doesn’t require a big investment or adding anything to your home. Daniel Richmond is with Green Mountain Energy. His company offers environmentally friendly plans.

“The good thing about Texas is that it’s a competitive electricity market,” he said. “You can choose your provider and you can choose what goes into your plan.”

But here’s something you should know.

Even with a renewable plan, the electricity fed into your home is the same mix everyone gets from the grid. What you’re paying for is to have more green energy produced in Texas along with a guarantee of sorts.

“What happens is your electricity company keeps track of where that power comes from and makes sure that if they say they’re selling you 100% renewable power, it really is,” he said. “The way that renewable energy works is through an accounting mechanism.”

That accounting mechanism is called “renewable energy credit.” When you purchase a plan, your provider buys credits equal to the amount of power you use. The alternative energy power plants get those credits when their green energy is added to the grid. The buying and trading of credits happens at the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, better known as ERCOT.

Marinov believes going green sends a message about wanting more renewable energy in Texas.

If you want to check out green electricity plans in your zip code, go to www.powertochoose.org and scroll to the renewable energy section. A search for the cheapest options shows a renewable plan is about a penny and a half more per kilowatt hour.