Green Energy Rates & Renewable Energy Solutions
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Renewable Energy: How and Why to Switch
From rooftop solar panels to electric vehicles, everyday people are trying to find new and affordable ways to shrink their carbon footprint. Even countries and cities are offering their citizens incentives and implementing new technologies to help reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, fossil fuels (namely petroleum, natural gas and coal) have provided 87% of the USA’s primary energy over the past decade. In Canada, things aren’t much different as fossil fuels accounted for 74.09% of total consumption in 2015 according to the Fossil fuel energy consumption chart by the World Bank. Given this, it can be daunting to find the most optimal way for you to have an impact. If you’ve been looking for ways to ‘green’ your lifestyle or business but aren’t sure what’s possible or what path to take, you’ve come to the right place.
The world has begun to put more thought into where we get our energy, how the production of the energy affects the environment and how we can increase energy efficiency. For some people, that may mean something as small as changing out their old incandescent lights for LEDs; for others, it could mean something like investing in a net-zero home or building, where the amount of energy used by the building is equal to the amount of renewable energy produced by the building.
EnergyRates.ca specializes in helping people — homeowners, tenants, landlords and business owners alike — find the utility options that work for them. If you would like to learn more about what it means to go green, keep reading. Or, if you’d like to see what green options are available to you, free of charge, you can fill out the form above to get started.
What is Green Energy?
Let’s start off by defining what exactly we mean when we say green energy. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines green energy (also known as green power) as “a subset of renewable energy and represents those renewable energy resources and technologies that provide the highest environmental benefit”. Green energy is also referred to as sustainable energy, which the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership defines as supplying energy in such a way where it will meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own energy needs.
By using green energy, we can limit the amount of environmental harm that occurs from generating energy while ensuring future generations will still have a habitable environment and the ability to sustain their own energy needs. But that’s just one of the many benefits of going green.
The Benefits to Going Green
Consuming green energy over fossil fuels will reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming. In addition to this, it will also reduce the amount of pollutants present in the atmosphere as everyone transitions away from reliance on energy sources that tend to emit them. According to the World Health Organization, reducing air pollution levels will lessen the burden of disease from respiratory illness (such as asthma) as well as things like lung cancer and heart disease.
Many countries are also looking to diversify their energy sources. Since oil and gas are finite, markets that rely on them are prone to recessions and market fluctuations. Including alternative energy sources in the resource pool creates stability that is then reflected in operation and sales costs. In cases of places that have strong energy-focused markets, such as Alberta, green energy allows its suppliers to be competitive, which then goes on to expand the client base.
Plus, as stated by the Government of Alberta, green energy innovation is an investment in job creation, which stabilizes the entire economy.
Green Energy Plans for Homeowners and Businesses
The National Resources of Canada and a wide variety of provincial energy suppliers, have created a number of green energy incentives in recognizing the need to get more consumers on board. Here are a few green energy suppliers on the market and their main incentives:
- ATCO Energy lets you base 25 or 100% of your electricity plan on renewable energy.
- Spot Power lets you choose a percentage of your electricity to come from renewables.
- Encor Chirp by Epcor lets you bundle your electricity or natural gas plans while supporting renewable energy sources.
- Just Energy lets you offset up to 100% of your carbon emissions and/or purchase up to 100% of your electricity in renewables (in BC, AB, SK, ON and QC markets only).
- Enmax connects consumers with energy grants and incentives and even helps you with installations to keep green energy costs low.
- Hudson Energy lets you supplement or supplant your energy consumption with green energy.
To find which green energy plan is the best in your area and compare rates, fill out the form above.
Benefits of Green Energy for Businesses
Choosing to produce or use green energy can benefit your business in a variety of ways. Consumers are looking to do their part by choosing to support businesses that are making visible efforts to be more eco-friendly, in addition to going green themselves. According to a BDC Study on consumer trends, over half of all global consumers factor in the eco-friendliness and sustainability of companies when making purchases. In fact, the Business Development Bank of Canada found that roughly 40% of people in the United States and Canada are more than willing to pay slightly more for environmentally friendly products and services.
Many business owners worry about the financial challenges associated with switching to clean energy, but the costs may not be as prohibitive as they appear. Energy suppliers are even providing incentives for consumers and businesses to switch to over to green energy.
The most common types of green energy for businesses are:
- Wind power
- Solar power
- Geothermal energy
- Tidal energy
- Biogas (Renewable Natural Gas)
If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to integrating alternative power sources into a large commercial enterprise or if you’re just unsure what green power options are available for your small business, this guide is a great place to start.
How Your Company Can Become More Sustainable
We wrote above about some of the different green energy plans and add-ons you can get from your providers. However, larger consumers have more opportunities to make a bigger impact and may have the means to take on bigger projects as an investment. Below are some green energy solutions for companies or large consumers.
1. Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) and Carbon Offsets
RECs allow you to directly support facilities producing green energy, while Carbon offsets are credits that allow you to fund carbon-reducing projects to counteract your emissions.
There are many different options for RECs and Offsets, which we go into in great detail. So, if you’d like a greater understanding of the types of credits to choose from and how to make your purchase, read our complete guide to Renewable Energy Credits and Carbon Offsets.
Micro-generation— or on-site generation— is the production of renewable electricity on a micro-scale like a small biogas power plant powering a residential community in a rural or semi-urban location or the installation of solar panels on private property, for example. The requirements to become a micro-generator vary by province. In Alberta, for instance, the maximum amount of electricity to be consumed or produced and still be considered a microgenerator is 5MW; and the generation must take place on the site owned or leased by the generator, with the intent to produce a part or all of their total electricity consumption.
3. Energy Efficiency
You and your business can benefit directly via financial incentives or programs offered by your province to help absorb the costs associated with purchasing renewable energy products or making efficiency upgrades. You can find the financial incentives or programs available for your province on the Government of Canada website here. While energy efficiency upgrades have some costs associated with them initially, the amount you save in energy and the associated costs will cover those expenses.
What is ESG, and how does it impact companies?
ESG stands for Environmental, Social and Governance. They represent the criteria of sustainability and the ethical impact of investing in a company. As such, ESG reporting promotes transparency with customers while encouraging long-term growth.
As of July 2022, over 90% of the companies in the S&P 500 have created annual ESG reports. In essence, ESG reporting proves an indispensable tool for investors to communicate with companies to understand if their values align.
Below are examples of each criterion as defined by Market Business News.
Environmental criteria examine how mindful a business is of its environmental impacts and looks at:
- waste and pollution.
- resource depletion.
- greenhouse gas emission.
- climate change.
Social criteria look at how a company treats people and examines:
- employee relations & diversity.
- working conditions, including child labour and slavery.
- local communities; seeks explicitly to fund projects or institutions that will serve poor and underserved communities globally.
- health and safety.
Governance criteria look at a corporation’s internal policies and how it is governed. It examines:
- tax strategy.
- executive remuneration.
- donations and political lobbying.
- corruption and bribery.
- board diversity and structure.
How to conduct ESG Reporting
ESG reporting is important, as it communicates data relevant to the added value or potential harm a company may be responsible for in environmental, societal and corporate governance realms. ESG reports contain a summary of relevant quantitative and qualitative information, with an analytic report to provide insight into the work business has done regarding the three factors.
Develop your ESG strategy
The first step is to create an ESG strategy. This should consider all aspects of the three categories and establish both short and long-term goals for the company. All teams and divisions within the company, as well as shareholders, should be up to date on these goals and the changes that will be implemented to meet them.
Select your reporting framework
To complete the report, it is best practice to identify one or more ESG reporting frameworks to adhere to. The ESG requires a lot of information regarding the company’s operations, but much of that data will likely be collected internally already. Governments overall have not developed standards on reporting the impact a company may have, so some organizations have worked with government, enterprises and investors to develop different frameworks of reporting, so the information shared, and the changes committed, are valid and positively impactful.
Some of the most common ESG reporting frameworks include the Sustainability Accountability Standards Board (SASB), Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), Science-Based Target initiative (SBTi) and others. We cover these three in greater detail in our carbon accounting guide.
Transparency throughout the process is essential. Transparency upholds the validity of the data in your report and ensures that your ESG reporting and the measures your company undertakes are trusted by shareholders and the public. Ensure that the metrics you focus on are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound) so you can clearly indicate where you have met or exceeded your goals, or where your company will need to put in more work.
Share your report
Now that you have done the work of completing the work in completing an ESG report, including collecting all the pertinent data and using one of the accepted formats, you can now share it. Report on your environmental, social, and governance goals and how they align with the other goals of your business. Be transparent in describing what you are doing that will make a difference, and what difference you expect it to make.
How sustainability impacts investor relations
Concerns over global warming’s impact on the environment are shared by millions of Canadians. For many, making changes in their everyday lives is not just a personal commitment to the environment, but a way to preserve global ecology. Canadians are looking for ways to support initiatives that reduce emissions and achieve a more sustainable future. Similarly, Canadian investors are looking to support sustainability in their investments as well.
According to a 2022 report by Fidelity International, two-thirds of surveyed North American analysts saw a growing emphasis to implement and communicate ESG policies among the companies they worked with. An impressive 90% of European analysts saw these trends too. As these numbers continuously increase, it seems sustainable investing is here to stay.
Regarding the types of sustainable businesses these investors are looking for, there is a growing demand that companies not just look for environmentally conscious investment opportunities, but also consider the social and governmental policies of the companies they invest in. Investors are prioritizing new technologies that can reduce emissions towards carbon-neutral targets, but also those with more robust commitments to the environment and sustainability goals. The same considerations of market-rate returns with minimal risk still apply; but they are now desired in conjunction with companies that meet their environmental, social and governmental obligations, as well.
Compare Green Energy Rates in Canada
When it comes to learning about the energy market, it can be difficult to find all the information you need to make an informed choice. Fortunately, we have plenty of helpful resources on a wide range of topics, such as this one on geothermal energy in Alberta. Or, if you are planning to move or operate in different provinces, you can learn more about green energy in Saskatchewan, Ontario, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec.
If you’re looking to find the best energy plan in your area, EnergyRates.ca is a free and unbiased cost comparison tool that can help both residential and commercial clients. Small business, small commercial, large commercial and industrial electricity and natural gas consumers can even get a free, personalized quote based on the level of energy consumption and needs to suit your financial and sustainability goals.
Using EnergyRates.ca is easy— all you need to do is fill in the form above to get started.