Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs)
Helping to Offset Carbon Emissions
Dickinson is already offsetting emissions by purchasing Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs). RECs help finance the expansion of wind-generated electricity and reduce GHG emissions from the U.S. electricity sector. In 2011 we purchased 18,000 RECs, which represent 18,000 megawatt hours, or 18 million kWh, of wind generated electricity. Our REC purchases offset 10,663 metric tons of CO2e, equal to 100% of the GHG emissions from our annual electricity use.
We purchase RECs from WindCurrent at an annual cost of $42,000. WindCurrent’s RECs are independently certified by Green-e as being additional and verifiable – meaning they result in real reductions in GHG emissions. They achieve this by supporting wind-generated electric power from the Century Wind Farm and the Walnut Wind Farm, both of which are in Iowa.
What is a Renewable Energy Certificate? Renewable Energy Certificates, also known as Green Tags, are instruments used to help finance renewable electricity. An electricity provider creates RECs by generating electricity from renewable energy resources. One REC is created for each megawatt-hour (or one thousand kWh) of electricity generated from renewables. The RECs are sold in an open market, which produces a revenue stream for the electricity provider that is additional to the revenue from selling the electricity itself. This additional financial incentive promotes development of renewable electricity. When done responsibly, the end result is a reduction of carbon dioxide emissions achieved by displacing electricity generated with fossil energy.
A common misperception is that our REC purchases result in wind-generated electricity being delivered to the Dickinson campus. This is not correct. The electricity that is consumed on campus is generated by PPL, which does not have any wind power facilities at present. The wind-generated electricity that is supported by our REC purchases is produced in Iowa and delivered to electricity consumers in the mid-West – our REC purchases subsidize the price they pay for wind-energy so that wind can compete in the market with conventionally generated electricity.