The difference is that a REC represents the environmental benefits of a MWh of renewable electricity generation and so it can be said to “offset” the emissions of a single MWh of average electricity generation. A carbon offset can be matched with emissions from other sources of greenhouse gas emissions (not just electricity generation), like flying and driving. A REC is a measure of the overall environmental benefits associated with the generation of 1 MWh of renewable electricity. These benefits include the fact that few if any greenhouse gases and other pollutants are being emitted from this generation.
A carbon offset is a reduction in emissions of carbon dioxide or greenhouse gases made in order to compensate for or to offset an emission made elsewhere.
Offsets are typically achieved through financial support of projects that reduce the emission of greenhouse gases in the short- or long-term. The most common project type is renewable energy, such as wind farms, biomass energy, or hydroelectric dams. Others include energy efficiency projects, the destruction of industrial pollutants or agricultural byproducts, destruction of landfill methane, and forestry projects. Eligible carbon offset projects need to be registered and recorded on a verified carbon registry, Kiwi Energy sources their Carbon Offsets from a project that promotes forestry in the Amazon registered with Verified Carbon Standard.
* Disclaimer: Please note that the above information regarding RECs is not state specific. Each state has its own REC requirements. The REC programs utilized by Kiwi Energy to match energy consumption and offset gas consumption go above and beyond those legal requirements in each individual state.