Green Mountain Energy Review: Is It Worth It?

Green Mountain Energy is a US energy company that offers sustainable electricity products to residential and commercial customers. Green Mountain offers residential homes and businesses 100% clean and renewable energy from wind and solar, including working with homes that have been fitted for solar power. It is now the nation’s longest-serving renewable energy retailer.

Using some of the same sustainable business models that they provide in their commercial division, Green Mountain Energy brings renewable models to their own business practices. They host a variety of clean energy projects that help neutralize carbon emissions for a cleaner environment. They founded the Green Energy Sun Club, whose mission is to invest in nonprofits to advance sustainability for people and the planet. This often presents itself as donating solar energy to nonprofits.

Due to increased consumer demand, Green Mountain has over 50 wind and solar facilities around the US, as well as over 35 solar facility donations funded by the Sun Club. Green Mountain also purchases all of the power from the Green Mountain Energy Wind Farms located across west Texas.

As a whole, Green Mountain’s customers have avoided 93,500,000,000 pounds of CO2 and counting, which is the equivalent of planting 11,135,000 trees.


Brief History About Green Mountain Energy

Green Mountain Energy was founded in August 1997 in Vermont as a wing of Green Mountain Power. The goal was to take advantage of electricity deregulation that was beginning around the country and give consumers a choice to change the way power is made

In September 2000, the company relocated to Austin, Texas, where it still resides today. Within two years, they were the first retailer to offer alternative energy in the competitive Texas market.

In 2004, Green Mountain created its commercial and industrial division, allowing them to service businesses in certain areas.

In August 2009, they expanded to New York City, where they serve customers in the Con Edison service territory.

In November 2010, Green Mountain Energy was purchased by NRG Energy for $350 million. While it was originally its own subsidiary, it is now one of NRG’s many brands. As a result of this acquisition, NRG became one of the nation’s largest green power retailers. However, the rest of NRG Energy uses fossil fuels for 93% of its energy uses.

In January 2011, Green Mountain Energy signed a two-year agreement to provide 100% renewable energy to the Empire State Building. This was the largest commercial purchase of green power in New York City.

In February 2012, they partnered with the NFL to power the Super Bowl XLVI with 15 million kWh of renewable energy.

In June 2012, Green Mountain expanded to the Pennsylvania market, providing service in the PECO and PPL territories. By July 2013, they served all of Pennsylvania.

In early 2018, Green Mountain joined Nissan to provide customers with $3,000 rebates for the purchase of an electric vehicle. This, combined with the federal tax crest of $7,500, would take about $10,500 off the price. They also provided customers with an electric charger for their home.


Types of Services

Whether for residential or business purposes, every single product offered by Green Mountain Energy has an environmental benefit.

Green Mountain Energy serves residential customers who live in a deregulated territory (Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Texas). It also partners with utilities in regulated markets.

They offer different types of residential electricity plans for different locations. The staples are in the next section, but there are variations from location to location.

Green Mountain has also created several plans that service electric vehicle owners. These include Pollution Free EV, which offers 100% wind-powered electricity exclusively for electric vehicle owners. It went on, in June 2013, to launch a new product called “Pollution Free Efficient”, which is the first and only 100% pollution-free energy product paired with a Nest Learning Thermostat.

In their commercial and industrial division, they offer cleaner energy plans to businesses in Texas, New York, and Pennsylvania. Their plans offer businesses a chance to reduce their CO2 emissions by purchasing renewable energy plans or carbon offsets. They offer sustainable business solutions to businesses nationwide, but cannot provide them with power. Businesses that work with them have renewable energy certificates (RECs), carbon offsets, and sustainable business solutions.

Green Mountain Energy also has plans concerning 100% carbon-offset natural gas. This plan allows the consumer to take action to compensate for the carbon emissions caused by natural gas consumption while investing in projects that reduce or remove greenhouse gas emissions. There are very few suppliers who provide this service to their consumers, which makes Green Mountain unique. It is only offered in Illinois, Maryland, New York, and Pennsylvania and is approved by the Climate Action Reserve or Verified Carbon Standard.


Electricity Plan Reviews

Green Mountain offers five plans for each consumer’s renewable energy needs. Their residential electricity product is primarily “Pollution Free electricity”. Many of their plans also include a monthly donation to the Sun Club.

  • 12 Months Pollution Free Crystal Clear

This plan offers 100% wind renewable energy. It is the most expensive of the fixed plans. Enrolling equates to 39,309 miles not driven, 8,506 newspapers recycled, 3,435 young trees’ CO2 absorbed annually.

  • 12 Months Pollution Free E-Plus.

This plan is the same as the Crystal Clear plan but requires that all enroll in Tree Free billing and autopay.

  • Pollution Free All Nighter

All Nighter brings 100% renewable energy for free all night long. Consumers pay nothing from 8 pm to 6 am, seven nights a week. The rest of the time, consumers will enjoy a low Fixed-Rate.

  • 24 Months

24 Months extends the previous fixed-rate plans for two years. This affords consumers a lower rate and price security for a longer period of time.

  • Month-to-Month

Month-to-Month is the most expensive plan that Green Mountain offers. The monthly bill will vary from month to month depending on consumption. It has all of the perks of renewable energy, but without the cancellation fee.


FAQs

To find a more comprehensive list of FAQs, narrowing in on each state and their plans, please visit Green Mountain Energy’s FAQ page.

What is renewable energy?

These are energy sources that are inexhaustible (solar, wind, geothermal) or replenished over a short time (hydro, biomass). Gas and coal are fossil fuels and are not renewable. Nuclear has negative environmental impacts like harmful radioactive waste byproducts.

What is cleaner electricity?

The traditional generation of electricity is the leading cause of industrial air pollution in the US and creates more CO2 than any other sector. Cleaner electricity is generated from sources that produce little to no air pollution (carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides) or radioactive waste. Sources of cleaner electricity include wind, solar power, biomass, geothermal, and hydropower.

How do you calculate the air pollution that customers prevent?

To calculate the carbon dioxide emissions consumers avoid, they multiply the monthly electric usage in kWh with the percentage of renewable generation in the product, times the CO2 emission rate of a typical system in the area.

Have renewable energy facilities developed as a result of purchases by Green Mountain Energy customers?

Customers have created a demand for the construction of more than 80 wind and solar facilities across the country.

Does buying Green Mountain Energy make a difference to the environment?

Yes. They measure progress one customer at a time—each household reduces pollution the household would otherwise emit. That customer is also supporting the development of new wind and solar facilities.

Will I need to rewire my home?

Green Mountain Energy requires no rewiring. It supplies power through the same regional power grid that provides power now.

What are carbon offsets?

A carbon offset is a credit generated for each ton of carbon dioxide equivalent that is reduced or removed as part of a verified greenhouse gas reduction project. The credits are used to compensate for emissions occurring elsewhere. Green Mountain primarily invests in projects that capture or destroy greenhouse gases that would otherwise be emitted, such as methane gas capture projects at landfills or the destruction of ozone-depleting substances.

Why is Green Mountain selling fossil fuels? They are not green.

Natural gas is still among the most efficient fuel sources for heating and is used extensively in many parts of the country. Green Mountain offers consumers a cleaner natural gas option by offsetting their carbon footprint and reducing their environmental impact. They are working to offset the carbon released into the air by burning natural gas.

What are RECs?

Purchasing Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) supports renewable electricity production in the region of generation. A REC represents the environmental benefits of 1 megawatt-hour (MWh) of renewable energy. For every unit of renewable electricity generated, an equivalent amount of RECs is produced, and by purchasing and pairing RECs with your electricity service you are using and receiving the benefits of that renewable electricity. Your REC purchase also helps build a market for renewable electricity. Increased demand for renewable electricity helps reduce conventional electricity generation in the region where the renewable electricity generator is located.


Verdict

Though not perfect, Green Mountain Energy is one of the cleanest and best renewable plans in an area. They are committed to using renewable energy in residences and businesses, providing carbon-offset alternatives for natural gas, and renewable business practices, all at an affordable price. They have also expanded to a number of other markets and are accessible on a larger scale.

However, there is a catch that comes with larger corporations. Green Mountain Energy has been purchased by NRG Energy, which primarily provides energy drawn from fossil fuels. So, at the end of the day, Green Mountain Energy funds are also going to NRG, in addition to all the other sustainable and renewable practices like Sun Club and building solar and wind farms. Part of choosing a green energy plan is divestment from fossil fuels, but with Green Mountain, you are still investing.

That said, if the only regional alternative is a fossil fuel provider, it’s absolutely worth the change.