Purchasing renewable energy certificates (RECs) is a way that people who cannot generate their own renewable energy can provide a production subsidy to electricity generated from renewable sources and reduce the need for fossil fuel based electricity.
A renewable certificate is a separate entity from the physical electricity you purchase from your utility and it generally costs consumers an additional $.01 to $.02.5 per kilowatt-hour (kWh). RECs are measured in single megawatt-hour increments and are created at the point of electric generation. Buyers have the option to select RECS based on how the renewable energy is generated (wind, solar, etc.) and the location of the renewable generator. Click here for a list of REC marketers from the EPA.
Purchasing RECs does not guarantee that the electricity you use will be from renewable sources because it is impossible to identify which electrons come from which energy source once they are fed into the utility grid. However, by purchasing electricity from renewable sources, it increases the demand for renewable energy and decreases the demand for electricity generated from fossil fuels.