Renewable Energy Certificates & Carbon Offsets
Video Credit: Center for Resource Solutions
Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) are tradable, contractual instruments that represent the full suite of attributes of 1 Megawatt-hour of renewable energy generation on the electricity grid. Essentially, a REC represents the environmental benefits of 1 megawatt-hour of renewable electricity that can be paired with electricity. RECs are the sole means to claim usage of grid-connected renewable electricity in the United States, and may be used as the compliance instrument for consumption- or delivery-based state Renewable Portfolio Standards. Renewable electricity generation and use are tracked through RECs, and so by matching RECs with your electricity service you are using renewable electricity.
Understanding Carbon Offsets
Carbon Offsets represent the reduction of a specific quantity of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. By purchasing these offsets, the customer has the right to all associated claims about the environmental benefits they embody. Carbon Offsets are a real environmental commodity, not a donation or investment in a future emissions reduction project. The verified GHG emissions reductions purchased are sourced from projects that have been validated and registered under high-quality project standards. (page 23: https://www.green-e.org/docs/climate/CodeofConduct.pdf)