Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs), also known as Green Tags, are becoming increasingly important in a country that has set serious goals for enacting renewable energy. In general, there are currently two types of RECs. Some REC’s are used to meet compliance targets or emissions requirements; a second group of RECs, called voluntary RECs, are driven by corporate sustainability efforts.
Voluntary RECs are just what they sound like they would be. These are RECs that are purchased of the purchaser’s own accord, not because there are compliance requirements forcing them to buy them. Voluntary RECs are not purchased in order to meet certain requirements. Instead, it’s the desire to use renewable energy that drives the purchase of voluntary RECs.
Though this system has been criticized for its lack of accountability, most RECs both domestic and corporate are still purchased voluntarily in the United States.
Besides the desire to reduce harmful greenhouse gasses, voluntary RECs are also purchased because they help the buyer cut back on energy bills. Every megawatt-hour of electricity that is generated from a renewable energy source is one for which users don’t have to pay utilities.
Consider that there are huge paybacks for corporations who choose this path to going green. This is especially true in the industrial sector; at 33 percent, the industrial sector represents the largest energy user in the U.S. Further. voluntary RECs help to offset the effects of energy consumption growing faster than energy production in the U.S. over the last 50 years.
REC certification may be obtained through the Center for Resource Solutions (CRS). To get certified, you must submit a Verification Process Audit annually. All relevant transactions must be recorded in the audit, so that it is assured that you or your company meet the requirements. Third party verification is required for REC certification. This can be performed by either a certified internal auditor, or an independent public account. The CRS has a list of auditors who meet their criteria.
Of course, any time people adopt voluntary procedures, there is personal and – in this case – corporate commitment to success. Adoption of Voluntary RECs is certainly a positive indication that people may not always need to be mandated to do the right thing. As such, this program has a great chance of being a long-term player in the push toward renewable energy adoption.
Bari Faye Siegel is a technology writer and marketing consultant at Noveda Technologies, an innovative leader in real-time, web-based energy monitoring, solar PV monitoring and water monitoring. Noveda also offers real-time collaboration tools that leverage social media to educate and empower stakeholder communities and make the smart grid a reality today.