Purchasing Wind Power: It’s Like Buying Organic, but a bit Different

It’s the summer — the season of fresh produce. So, what does that have to do with wind power? Because purchasing power impacts markets:  both farmers markets and energy markets.

When you want to buy organic strawberries at the grocery store, you select the ones with the green sticker from the organic section and bring them to the checkout.

You’ll pay a little extra for that organic produce, and part of your payment goes to the organic farmer who produced the strawberries.  In this transaction, it’s clear that your purchase supports the sustainable growing practices that organic farming represents.

Unfortunately, being a socially responsible energy consumer isn’t quite as simple. If it were, I have a feeling that we would be using much more renewable energy in the US, and that Clean Currents might already be a fortune 500 company.

So, let’s pretend purchasing produce is like purchasing electricity.

Unlike strawberries, consumers can’t select and differentiate sustainably produced electrons from their fossil fuel counterparts. It’s as if all of the strawberries — organic and non organic – were dumped into the same display at Whole Foods, and none of them had that green sticker.

In this scenario, it’s impossible to know whether the box of strawberries that you select are organic or not, but you want to support organic farming anyway.*

You pick out your box of strawberries and pay the grocer. Just as before, the grocer gives part of the money for the strawberry to the organic farmer. The grocer guarantees that there was at least one box of organic strawberries in the bin, and that your payment went to the farmer to whom they were owed.

At the end of the day, you have the equivalent impact in both markets. The major difference: physics of energy transportation.

As an individual, you can’t directly enter the energy market. As a Clean Currents customer, you send us shopping in your place. We purchase “organic” energy strawberries for you – often at a very competitive rate — and load them onto your utility’s “truck” which then delivers it to your home.

It’s not perfect, but it’s still a pretty delicious way to a make a difference.

*For simplicity’s sake, let’s forget the personal health risks one reduces from eating organic and pretend there are only greater societal benefits such as cleaner air and water from fewer pesticides.