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Why we're not going green

It will probably disappoint some of my neighbors and friends, but we're not choosing "green energy" when given the chance. And here's why.

First, let me get you up to speed...our village had a vote awhile back on electricity aggregation that allowed the local government to purchase power from the source collectively to save residents money. Our village chose the "renewable" option at that time. (We're a super environmentally friendly community.)

Recently, there was a bid for the next round of aggregation and the renewable rate came back higher than the "brown" rate so our Village Board chose the cheaper, less "green" option which is causing considerable backlash in the town, a large debate, and lots of hurt feelings.

When the time came for us to read the literature from the energy supplier, I read through the material with an open mind. We're getting a cheaper rate than if we opt-out of the program altogether. We could maybe choose our own supplier--a renewable one even--but that seems time consuming and you must read the fine print carefully. Here, the village has done the legwork for us.

But we're not opting-in on the slightly more expensive, renewable because--frankly--to me it's a little silly. All the bickering about sustainability when, in reality, the energy for your home all comes from the same place. Unless you're off the grid. To put it another way, the power lines coming into your home are electric. Every supplier who creates power sends the electricity to those lines. In fact, all you're doing if you choose the renewable energy option is that the supplier will purchase from a renewable energy source an amount of power equal to what you use to offset your usage. It's just sleight of hand.

And, yes, I know that we need to encourage more solar and wind and whatnot because this kind of financial support is what leads to the construction of new facilities. It's an investment...of a sort. I get that argument. comes down to two issues: first, that in my state (IL) nearly 50% of the energy we use already comes from nuclear. IL is the largest producer of nuclear power in the US. Now, you can debate whether nuclear is "clean" power or not all you want. It definitely has drawbacks (meltdown!) and benefits. But we've now muddied the water so much that our electric supplier buying wind power is the least of our concerns.

Second, all this debate is taking place within the confines of the nation's power supply grid. If you really care, you'll do more than just pay extra for some peace of mind. You'll get off the darn grid! Solar is cheap these days. Have your own wind turbine. There's geothermal. Make your own power. Heck, sell it back to the electric company and make a profit!

We live in a condo building and that's not so feasible for us. This would be a different conversation if we were talking about our village actually doing for us (and the community) what many people cannot do in our situation...the village could certainly start a solar generation program with incentives to get more people on a renewable power source and away from industrial power altogether. That's real change. That's not the conversation we're having.

No, we're sticking with the source that Village Hall negotiated for us. Maybe one day we'll live on a solar-powered farm. Until then, keep pushing politically for renewable energy construction, oppose dirty oil pipelines and the like. Real change isn't coming from our household's electric choice nor even 50,000 households in our village staying in the Big Energy system.