Sorry about this morning’s OTR post, restoring my laptop’s hard drive after repair went long after I gave up and went to bed last night. I’ll post it Monday.
I’ve been pondering this renewable energy question off and on recently and figured I’d open it up to discussion to broaden my thinking.
The question is: if you pay a surcharge for renewable energy from your electricity provider, is it better to then be wasteful or at least a “big consumer” of that clean electricity in order to increase demand for clean electricity and thus spurring more investment in renewables, or should you try to be as energy-conscious as possible and not leave lights on, keep the thermostat down/up, etc.?
In this scenario, the electricity that comes in your house is technically a mix of renewable and dirty, but you pay a surcharge to have clean energy equal to your usage added to your provider’s feed. If every customer chose this option, all the electricity provided to your home would be from renewable sources.
My thinking is that, since demand increases investment/supply, it’s desirable to consume more electricity once you’re setup to pay the premium as described above. More investment in renewable energy is a good and a larger supply/higher percentage renewable in the renewable/dirty mix that my provider supplies is also a good. So except for wasting some money, it seems to me like wasting electricity is actually a good here.
If your supply is already 100% renewable (from a provider, not your own solar/wind/etc.), I’m undecided if it makes sense to be a “big consumer” or not. Again, increasing demand means more investment in supply in your locality and region, and provides the market/investors evidence that such demand might exist in other under-served areas. Since a major goal of us who pay the surcharge for renewable or are willing to pay higher rates or invest in infrastructure like solar is to make a better, carbon-free world, there, perversely, seems to be a clear incentive to be wasteful here too. But I’m not sure.
What think you?
Consider this a non-political open thread.