Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Power to Choose

If you live in NYC, con ed is your electricity supplier (possibly gas too, but I don't have that, despite my wife's claims to the contrary). Con ed provides the energy and the bill. Those wishing to have a green energy supplier (wind/hydro/solar/etc) need only change their supplier. The bill comes still comes from ConEd.

Lets say you use 300 KWH in an average month. (normal for us, if the AC isn't on)

  1. You switch to a green energy supplier (ESCO) -- supplier "X"
  2. Supplier X delivers 300 KWH(?) into the grid.*
  3. Your electricity is delivered in the same manner as always. Turn on a lamp and it goes on. But you have to ask yourself, do you really need that lamp on?
  4. You pay con ed, who pays supplier x.
* The green power isn't actually delivered to your house specifically, but rather to the city -- it's delivered to "the grid".

The result: ConEd needs to produce less energy this month of non-renewably, polluting energy. 300KWH less, in our case. Imagine if 10 families switch... 100? 1000? The census says there's about 820,000 households in Manhattan. If 1% of Manhattan homes changed to green power, (assuming 500KWH monthly average -- our average across the last year)... let's see:

(Stats from the Energy Star Program site:)

General Conversions (Averages for the United States)

Energy to Carbon Emissions

1.55 pounds CO2 per kWh
(E.g.: 200,000 kWh x 1.55 lbs CO2/kWh = 310,000 lbs of CO2)

Carbon Emissions to Cars
11,560 pounds CO2 per car (I found this is a yearly stat. -Columbia)
(E.g.: 310,000 lbs CO2 /11,560 lbs CO2/car = 27 cars)

So if we figure:

1% of 820,000 = 8,200 families
8,200 x 500KWH = 4,100,000 KWH per month
4,100,000 KWH x 1.55 CO2 = 6,355,000 lb CO2 / month saved.

And to put it in perspective:
6,355,000 lb CO2 per month = 76,260,000 lbs CO2 per year
76,260,000 lbs CO2 (year) / 11,560 lbs CO2 per car (year) = 6,597

If 1% of Manhattan homes switched to green power, it would be saving the same amount of CO2 in a year as would taking 6,597 cars off the roads.

And the number of homes in New York City (vs. Manhattan alone)? 3.2 million, or 4 times the number of Manhattan alone. Is 1% too much to ask?

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