After discovering that we used 880 KWHs in June, I decided to learn more about how these 880 KWHs of electricty were created. I went to my friendly local utility Web site, Puget Sound Energy, and found quite a bit of useful information in the Energy and Environment section. Now I realize that a utility company isn’t exactly the most unbiased source for information about the environmental impact of energy generation, but the site did contain some very interesting, and hopefully credible, information. First of all, the site publishes a graph of the energy sources used to generate the electricity it distributes. Here’s the graph:
Living in the Pacific Northwest, we do benefit from hydroelectric power, which makes up 45% of the mix. Coal generated electricity I do know is not good, contributed to the green house gas problem when the coal is burned to create the electricity. Natural gas burns cleaner, but I’m still not sure how this rates in terms of environmental impact.
So here’s where I get to deciding to voluntarily pay more. I joined the Puget Sound Energy Green Energy Program. Joining the program will cost us and additional $0.0125 per KWH. For our electric bill last month, that ads on about $11 more dollars. PSE will buy blocks of power from green sources to introduce into the overall power mix, effectively increasing the percentage of green power in the overall power supply. In my mind, this does a few things: 1. It demonstrates to PSE that there is more demand for green energy, and 2. It increases my bill, giving me an incentive to use less energy. Here is what this buys:
Oh, as an added bonus I found out that the average American family uses 900 KWH per month. Our 880, our lowest usage of the year, is just under this. When you average our numbers out, we’re certainly above average, something we are working to change.