4 Steps to Buy Clean Renewable Electricity for the Same Price as Dirty Electricity


Have you considered getting solar panels for your home or one of Tesla’s new solar roofs? Going renewable is sexy! Solar is not right for everybody, though. If you have lots of trees in your yard, you rent, or you’re planning to move in the next 5-10 years, it probably doesn’t make sense. Bummer.

Never fear! Because wind and solar at large utility scale is now the least expensive way to generate electricity, you can buy 100% renewable electricity for about the same price (sometimes less) than you are paying for dirty electricity made from coal or natural gas. As recently as a year ago, it was a good bit more, now it’s about the same price!

First Energy power plant in Southeast Ohio.

All you need to do to buy clean electricity in Ohio is to choose a clean energy supplier and make a phone call. States that have “decoupled” their power let you choose how your electricity is produced. You will always pay your utility for the wires and meter that get the electricity to your house, but you can choose how that energy is produced.

If the electric bill is in your name, you can switch to clean renewable electricity. Today.

This works if you have a shady yard, you rent, or you’re planning on moving soon. Anyone can do it!

When I switched, I actually saved a little bit on my electricity bill, but generally you’ll be within $0.005 – $0.01/kilowatt hour. (kWh) That works out to about $50-$100 year at a fairly typical 10,000 kWh annual usage.

Is it worth $50-$100 per year (or less) and an hour of your time to eliminate a big chunk of your carbon footprint, move us towards energy independence, and leave a better earth for our kids? Nothing is faster, cheaper, or easier for as big of a result. Let’s get started!

4 Steps to Buying Clean Electricity

  1. 1. Grab a bill

  2. 2. Google PUCO

  3. 3. Check Apples to Apples

  4. 4. Switch

If you prefer to check this out in a step by step slideshow format, check this out.

Step 1: Grab a Bill

This whole process should take about an hour. I painstakingly documented all the steps of switching suppliers in Ohio here, this is a shortened guide. First, you want to grab a recent electric bill and look for “Energy Choice Ohio” or “Apples to Apples” and find your price to compare. That is how you can figure out if the price is about the same.


Step 2: Google PUCO

PUCO is the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. They maintain a list of offers from various energy suppliers. We’re looking for the Apples to Apples comparison chart through the Energy Choice Ohio program.

Once you get to the PUCO site, find your supplier through the menus (again, detailed screen shots are here in this slideshow.) The menus work like this:

  • Residential (vs. commercial and industrial)
  • Electric (vs. natural gas)
  • Utility (choose your utility)
  • Apples to Apples chart (you made it!)

Step 3: Check Apples to Apples

You made it! You should be seeing a screen like this:

Scroll down, next up you are looking for the “Renewable Content” drop down. 


Where before there were a ton of results (87 when I ran this 6/1/17), now there are only a few, 11 in this case:

Make sure in the “Renew Content” column everything is 76-100% renewable. Next up, sort by price on the $/kWh column. The lowest price should be at the top. (It will change, it likely won’t be AEP anymore.) 

Now comes the detail work. You have to figure out if the offer is actually a good deal. Again, detailed screen shots can be found here.

  • Price per kilowatt hour (kWh). This is the most important one, find the lowest price that fits your needs. It should be within 1 cent per kilowatt hour.
  • Early Termination Fee less than $25. You can get dinged for switching early. Generally I like to stay in the $0-$25 range unless it’s a smoking deal. Click “details” to look for a catch. In the case of this AEP offer, they will charge you $10/month for every month you switch early, so if you change your mind 2 months into a 12 month offer, you will get dinged for $100. I’m ok with this one because I won’t switch more than a month or two in advance, so I’m out $10-20 max.
  • Fixed/Variable. Look for a fixed rate in most cases.
  • Term Length. If you are going to move in a few months, you may want a 6 month term. For the most part, longer is better
  • Offer Details. Click it to be sure nothing weird is in there.

Step 4: Switch!

With your bill in hand, call the number on the offer. Yes, this can be mildly frustrating. You may want to do it with your favorite adult beverage in hand. In a month or less, you’ll be switched over to 100% clean renewable energy for about what you’re paying now!

Share this with your friends, and let’s make a real difference!

Further Reading

Switching to Renewable Electricity. Detailed screen shots of the switching process in a presentation.

All Electric Heating. Switching your electricity supplier still doesn’t get your home off fossil fuels. It’s very possible and can have very similar operating costs to natural gas, even with gas at historic lows. Check out this presentation on how it is done as well as a case study.

All Electric Home. If you really want to get serious, it’s not hard to get rid of your gas meter and go all electric. Here’s how it works. Four case studies at the bottom.

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