Karen Goodman dreams of clean air for her children.
In their Fayetteville, N.C., apartment, her family turns off lights when they aren’t needed, keeps the thermostat as low as possible, or off, and opens windows to increase air flow.
“We use energy-efficient lightbulbs, we compost – anything to save the environment,” Goodman said.
When she learned about Duke Energy’s Renewable Advantage program during a routine marketing call in December 2020, she registered without hesitation.
“Once the information was passed on to me, it was a no-brainer,” said Goodman. “I think, if people understood it, they’d do it.”
Goodman is one of 3,500 residential customers who have joined Duke Energy’s Renewable Advantage program since its launch in May 2020.
“This program is for people who want to actively support renewable energy and help reduce their environmental impact,” said Gmerice McNeil, Duke Energy’s Charlotte, N.C.-based program manager.
Here’s how it works: Customers buy a renewable energy certificate (REC) in 250-kilowatt-hour (kWh) block increments. A REC represents four 250-kWh of energy, roughly what most households use in a month.
Each purchased block costs $3 additional per month on the customer’s Duke Energy bill, so to cover the entire use of roughly 1,000 kWh per household, that would cost $12 monthly.
Encouraged by her daughter, Carmen, 15, a nature enthusiast who overheard the conversation, Goodman signed up for three blocks – $9 a month– representing 750 kWh of renewable energy. The decision reduces her household’s monthly electricity-based carbon emissions as much as roughly 60 gallons of gasoline, according to the EPA.
RECs are currently the only way to identify that the energy put on the grid was generated from a renewable source, such as wind or solar.
The program launched after a survey showed Duke Energy residential customers were interested in the choice to participate in a renewables program.
“Customers look to their utility to offer services to those who have interests in green efforts,” said McNeil. “This gives the customers a pathway to do that, for those who want to create a positive impact. And through participation in the program, customers may make the environmental claim they are using electricity from renewable resources.”
“Given the challenges of the last year, I am pleased to see so many sign up,” said McNeil. “As more customers want to see more renewable energy put onto the grid, that’s going to help increase the demand for renewable energy and grow these types of voluntary programs."
The program is aligned with Duke Energy’s goal to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Since 2005, the company has reduced emissions by 39 percent. To reach net-zero, Duke Energy will explore new technologies, expand renewable energy, retire coal plants and invest in an electric grid that’s more resilient.
“This program is for customers who really want to take an active role,” McNeil said. “In addition to recycling or composting, this is another way to help make a greener environment.”
Goodman is one such customer. “I also have a newborn baby,” she said. “We have to do something to build more efficient energy and to clean the air – it’s important to me and my family.”