Top States for Renewable Energy? You won’t believe it.

If I asked you to guess which states produce the most renewable energy, what would you say?

You might think of California or Hawaii with their headline grabbing progressive policies on setting the highest renewable standards. Perhaps you’d envision extremely sunny states like New Mexico or Arizona where solar energy development has expanded. potato

Would Idaho or Iowa come to mind? You might be surprised to know that rural (and more conservative) states are the top renewable energy producing states when ranked by this nifty interactive map from the Department of Energy.

However, dig a little deeper and you’ll discover that there is some controversy (there always is) when it comes to what the Energy Information Agency considers renewable. From the above linked CNBC article:

Renewable energy comes from a source that is naturally replenished and not depleted when used. The U.S. Energy Information Administration classifies solar, wind, biomass, hydroelectric and geothermal energy as renewable… Some of the accepted sources also attract their own controversy as “renewables,” including hydroelectricity and biomass.

There are some great tools on the EIA website to play around with if you’re curious which states are producing the most (insert type of) energy. For example, wind or (this example actually comes from the Solar Energy Industry Association) solar. Have fun clicking around and always remember to read a layer deeper when you see an attention grabbing headline. 🙂

Solar Gold Rush in Illinois (and beyond)

I grew up in Illinois and still have many family members there, so I tend to pay attention to the news out of the Prairie State. Unless you live in Illinois (and pay attention to energy news) you may have missed that Illinois is on the precipice of a solar gold rush resulting from legislation adopted by the general assembly in December of 2016. But you couldn’t be blamed since most of the news coverage made little to no mention of the huge solar program included in the legislation.

The legislation was covered through the lens of nuclear power. “Huh?” you’re scratching your head…”I thought we were talking about solar.” Allow me to explain.

Illinois generates more electric from nuclear power plants than any other state with 11 operating nuclear reactors. The plants where those reactors are housed are not especially young, either. So the companies that operate them asked the legislature for approval to raise electric rates to pay for improvements to the plants. However, one of the ways that the company got the legislation passed was by agreeing to collect hundreds of millions of dollars from ratepayers to help subsidize the construction of a lot of new solar energy in Illinois. This helped get environmental lobbying groups on board.SOLAR-FARM-1024x768

“Wait…” you’re thinking as you look outside on this cold, grey, winter day in Illinois, “solar in Illinois?” I was curious about this too, but it turns out that the technology used in solar panels has advanced (and keeps advancing) at a rate that makes it work even in northern climates. States like New York and Minnesota have had aggressive programs in place for some time now. In sunny states like Hawaii and California, they’re setting goals of producing 100% of their electric from renewable.

These developments paint a rosy picture of a future where we will rely on less carbon producing technologies, but it does cost. Illinois has enjoyed relatively cheap electric, but rates are on the rise. I, for one, am happy that some of those increases are helping shepherd in new, clean electric production and not simply being used to maintain the old and less efficient technologies.

Comed Customer? Your rates are about to go up.

increase chartCommonwealth Edison (or Comed for short) is the electric utility that covers most of the Chicagoland Region. According to their website, they supply more than 3.8 million customers across northern Illinois. While it is no secret when their rates are scheduled to increase, many of their customers will be surprised to know that rates are guaranteed to keep climbing incrementally over the next two years.

The current Comed rate is 6.318 cents per kWh. That means if you’re an average user (average sized house, family, appliances etc) your cost might be about $63 bucks per month, not including delivery charges and other fees outside of the cost of electric. Over the next couple years Comed is stepping up prices:

  • June 2017 = 6.89 cents per kWh
  • October 2017 = 7.15 cents per kWh
  • June 2018 = 7.54 cents per kWh

If you’re doing the math then you’ll see that an average user might see a $12/month increase or $144/year. And if you’re an above average user of electricity (heated swimming pool, larger home etc.) your pocketbook will get hit even harder.

Because these prices are tied to the base price of electricity, alternative suppliers will also see increases, but if you’re currently a Comed customer it is a good time to begin shopping the alternative suppliers and actively monitor your costs.

Better Business Bureau, Baby

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Today we received accreditation from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and we’re so proud we want to shout it from the mountain tops. However, since we are not on mountain tops and it is rather late at night, we’ll happily post it to the internet via our blog and social media pages.

According to its website, the “BBB helps people find and recommend businesses, brands and charities they can trust.”

Basically they help you, the consumer, know that you’re dealing with a reputable company that delivers on promises. Why does that matter to us? Honestly, because we save people so much money by monitoring and switching their energy supplier that it is a little unbelievable.

If you want to become a believer, sign up at http://www.EnergySimp.ly.

FAQ: What if Comed is the cheapest?

Comed’s electric rates have recently gone down in Illinois prompting the question: what if my cheapest option is the “default” option? In Illinois, if you don’t proactively choose a retail electric provider you auto-default to Comed. This is different from Texas where you must choose a retail electric provider.  Diagram.

For Customers Who Want the Cheapest Electric: There are times when Comed offers a competitive rate, but even when their prices go down, there are typically still a handful of cheaper rates or incentives packages that we can switch our customers into. While the savings might, for a limited time, become smaller they’re still savings. And when prices begin to swing back up – you’ll rest easy knowing that you’re still getting the cheapest.

The Green Answer: Many of our Illinois customers utilize our service to ensure they’re always getting the cheapest 100% renewable electricity. Typically the cost is the same or just slightly more, as outlined in this past blog post. Since we are constantly monitoring and switching our customers into the cheapest rates, our customers often get to take advantage of cash back and gift card incentives from their electric providers as well.

Seasons Changing, Energy Needs Changing

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Today marks the first day of October and you have likely made some changes in your home climate control (or soon will be.)  If you’re in a warm part of the country like Texas, your electricity needs may be decreasing significantly as the weather cools-off and you can turn-down your air conditioning.  If you’re in a cooler part of the country like Illinois, your electricity needs may be increasing as you need to heat your home.  For many of Energy Simply’s customers, electricity usage varies by more than 2x between the summer months and the winter months.

If you’re not already signed-up as a customer of Energy Simply, having us keep you in the best electricity plan for YOUR home, now is a great time to consider signing-up.  Learn more about how Energy Simply saves you significant money by keeping you in the best electricity plan for your home at: https://www.energysimp.ly/how-it-works.

FAQ: Can I change power companies?

We get this question more often from Illinois customers, rather than Texas. Both Illinois and Texas are deregulated energy states. That means that people can choose which “retailer” they purchase their energy from. The difference between Illinois and Texas is that Illinois has a “default” retailer which is the well-known utility, Comed. All Texans have to choose an electric retailer in order to obtain their power.

So, the simple answer is: YES.  change-cycle

However, once you’ve signed up with Energy Simply, you won’t ever have to worry about changing power companies again. It can be a hassle to navigate the hundreds of companies and thousands of plans to figure out which one is right for you. That is why Energy Simply monitors the markets and takes care of the switching – saving our customers hundreds and hundreds of dollars.

For answers to more of your questions, click on the FAQ category, located on the right hand side of this blog.