Good Energy is pleased to present a guest post byBlaine Collison, Program Director of the United StatesEnvironmental Protection Agency's Green Power Partnership.

Green power is one of the most important, most compelling economic and environmental opportunities available to the United States of America.

And American businesses, institutions and communities are turning to green power in ever-growing numbers. Together, they're accelerating the domestic U.S. clean energy industry and helping to modernize our energy economy.

Green power is electricity produced from renewable energy technologies, including wind, solar, biomass, biogas and low-impact hydroelectric systems. Using green power produces no greenhouse gas emissions.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Green Power Partnership (GPP) is a national voluntary program that helps communities and organizations make green power procurements. As of September 2013, more than 1,500 businesses and institutions from across the United States are collectively using more than 28 billion kWh of green power annually, equivalent to the annual carbon dioxide emissions from electricity use of more than three million average American homes. Green Power Partners include familiar companies from our markets and communities, including Intel, Microsoft, Kohl's Department Stores, Wal-Mart, Staples, Apple, Hilton and McDonald's USA.

More than 70% of all the green power purchased annually by Green Power Partners is procured in the form of renewable energy credits (RECs). RECs are the environmental attributes of renewable generation - the lack of pollution - and can be sold separately from the underlying electricity generation. Because RECs aren't physically transmitted down utility lines, every single American business, institution, locality and residential electricity user can make a green power choice by buying RECs.

RECs are a critical instrument in both the national voluntary and state-based compliance green power markets. RECs facilitate accurate tracking of environmental claims and accountability and provide a marginal revenue stream - an environmental premium - for developers and generators of renewable energy. In markets like New Jersey, Maryland and the District of Columbia, it's the marginal revenue provided by solar RECs that has helped create such rapidly-expanding deployment opportunities for U.S. solar installers.

Green power purchasing is especially powerful when we work at the community level: Washington, DC; Philadelphia, PA; Portland, OR; Aurora, IL; Cincinnati, OH and more than 40 other cities and towns across the U.S. have been designated Green Power Communities by the EPA in recognition of their combined residential, business and institutional voluntary green power purchasing.

The Village of Oak Park, IL partnered with its neighbor the Village of River Forest to create a community-wide sustainability vision plan. One of the plan's top energy priorities was cost-effective investment in renewable energy. Oak Park took the concept one step further by becoming the first municipality in Illinois and possibly the nation to choose an all-green power portfolio standard for its residents and small business operators who participate in Oak Park's Community Choice Aggregation program. One of the biggest benefits accrued to the Village of Oak Park through its aggregation program was a sense of community pride not only for committing to a purchase of 100 percent local wind renewable energy certificates (RECs) that will reduce local emissions by 171,000 metric tons of CO2 per year, but also for leading hundreds of other municipalities to start aggregation programs, many of whom also requested rates for 100 percent renewable energy portfolios.

Working at the community level helps engage critical stakeholders from all sectors of the community and economy and improves the economic and environmental outcomes for us all.

Please consider joining the thousands and thousands of American businesses, schools, governments and residents who are switching to green power today.

Blaine Collison is the director of the United States Environmental Protection Agency's Green Power Partnership, and is responsible for strategic and operational management of the program as well as its relationships with more than 1,500 partners. Mr. Collison speaks widely on green power market development issues, including innovative procurement and financing strategies and engaging stakeholders. He is on the advisory boards for the Association of Climate Change Officers, the Sustainable Endowments Institute, and the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.

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