Make a Green Switch for Earth Day
Good news for those who want to go green at home or at work. We’re celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Green Switch program by making more available for less — now you now can buy 200 kWh blocks of renewable energy for just $2 apiece.
APRIL 22, 2020 — For Knoxville homeowner Liz Upchurch, signing up for her local power company’s Green Power Switch 20 years ago was a no brainer. “I placed a lot of value on renewable energy, especially on solar energy, and it was important for me to feel like I was offsetting my family’s carbon footprint.”
At the same time, Upchurch lived in a tree-shaded home in a historical district — solar panels were impractical for her, and frankly out of reach. So, she did a quick calculation and decided to invest $8 a month in two 150 kWh blocks of Green Power Switch comprising renewable energy sourced from the Tennessee Valley to offset her usage. “I was willing to pay a premium for the kind of energy I wanted,” she says. “I still am.”
This was exactly how TVA and its local power company partners had envisioned the program — now celebrating its 20th anniversary and a sleek new name, Green Switch. “When we conceived it, we wanted to provide ways for customers who wanted to support renewable energy to do that no matter where they are,” Laura Duncan, TVA’s manager of Origination and Renewable Energy Support.
“You have to remember that 20 years ago, much of the technology was still proving itself and solar was a lot more expensive. The installed cost of solar has come down more than 70 percent in the last 10 years, so what you can get for $3,000 today might have cost you $10,000 10 years ago, and even more 20 years ago.”
Ethan Ogle, also a manager on TVA’s renewable energy program team, notes: “Cost can be a barrier when it comes to supporting green power. That’s why we created this program back in 2000 to give people the option to purchase environmentally friendly energy for as little as $4 a month, no commitment, no installation fees.”
The program was received well, not only by residents, but by companies, too.
Jacqueline Arthur, general manager of Knoxville’s Three River’s Market says, “We have proudly participated in the Green Power Switch program since its inception, purchasing 33 blocks each month. It was the simplest and most direct way of supporting our mission to create and nourish a healthier environment, healthier people, and a healthier community.”
The big news on this anniversary is that participants will not only get a price break, but will get more clean energy, too. Local power companies will be phasing in changes to Green Switch over the next 6 months so that each block will cost $2 and comprise 200 kWh (compared to $4 for 150 kWh).
“What’s happening here is the price of solar is going down, and we’re passing that cost break along to consumers,” Duncan says.
Three Rivers Market’s Arthur receives that news with warm welcome. “That’s great!” she says. “That just means we can buy more green blocks for our business!”
The Little Program that Could
In starting Green Power Switch back in 2000, TVA not only established itself as a leader in the renewables space in the Southeast, it kickstarted its own efforts in the area. Out of Green Switch would grow many different renewables programs, leading to today’s sophisticated suite of products, which includes Green Flex (offering a full 1 MWh REC) and Green Invest (unique solutions for large business and industrial partners).
When Green Switch started in 2000, it was supported by a whopping 3 solar sites. Today there are more than 4,000 solar sites contracted and operating in the Tennessee Valley totaling more than 1,700 MW AC.