GreenChoice® - Frequently Asked Questions
What is renewable energy?
Renewable energy is energy generated from natural resources—such as sunlight, wind, tides and geothermal heat. Texas produces the most wind power of any U.S. State, in fact only four countries have more wind power than Texas!* Austin Energy purchases renewable energy from wind and solar facilities to minimize our impact on the environment. Learn more about Austin Energy's commitment to the environment.
*Source: American Wind Energy Association State Fact Sheet for Texas
What Is the GreenChoice program?
When you subscribe to GreenChoice, you are choosing to support renewable energy by ensuring Austin Energy purchases the Texas wind to match 100% of your usage. Residential and some business subscribers to GreenChoice pay less than one cent ($0.0075) more per kilowatt hour (kWh) for energy than non-subscribers.
GreenChoice is available to residents and business owners without a contract, as a subscription service that they may cancel at any time. Business owners may opt for an Energizer-level 12-month contract at the same less than one cent ($0.0075) per kWh premium and qualify for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Green Power Partner Program and the City of Austin’s Green Business Leaders Program.
Commercial customers who subscribe at the Patron-level with a 5-year contract qualify for the EPA Green Power Partner Program, the City of Austin’s Green Business Leaders, LEED credits, and Austin Energy Green Building ratings. The Patron option is currently under review. Check back for details about how to become a Patron.
Why should I subscribe to GreenChoice?
When you subscribe to GreenChoice, you make a lasting contribution to Austin's quality of life and take a leadership role in moving Austin toward its community goal of 100% carbon free energy by 2035.
Subscribing to GreenChoice means that Austin Energy can purchase wind energy to meet your needs instead of electricity produced from natural gas or coal-fired power plants. Relying less on fossil fuel combustion for energy means less air pollution and less water wasted in drought-prone Texas.
Your purchase of GreenChoice energy supports growth of the renewable energy industry in Texas, which creates new jobs in the state and produces new revenues for school districts.
How is subscribing to GreenChoice like planting trees or removing cars from the road?
The electricity grid works as an interconnected network where grid operators dispatch fossil, nuclear, and renewable power generation assets simultaneously to meet electricity demand. When more renewable energy (such as wind or solar) is placed on the grid, the overall generation fuel mix becomes cleaner.
Non-renewable energy sources (coal, natural gas) require costs, emissions, and water use. Wind power, on the other hand, is a net zero energy source: it has zero fuel cost, zero emissions, and zero water use for production. Austin Energy uses emissions factors for non-renewable fuels to calculate carbon emissions eliminated by renewable GreenChoice wind power sales. We then calculate how many trees planted or cars removed from use it would take to eliminate the same amount of emissions.
The Environmental Protection Agency's Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator is used to calculate equivalency numbers. See the latest numbers on the environmental impact GreenChoice customers are making.
If I sign up will my home or business receive electricity generated from renewable energy?
Electricity generated by wind is not directed to a specific home or business. When you subscribe to GreenChoice, Austin Energy purchases energy to match 100% of your usage from Texas wind farms instead of purchasing that energy from natural gas or coal-fired power plants. This wind energy enters the electric system daily and reduces the amount of energy needed from fossil-fuel based power plants. As more customers subscribe to GreenChoice, the amount of fossil fuel purchases can decrease.
GreenChoice is Green-e Energy® certified and meets the environmental and consumer-protection standards set forth by the nonprofit Center for Resource Solutions. Subscribing to GreenChoice allows customers to contribute to the generation of clean, renewable power. Green-e Energy requires organizations to provide their customers with documentation verifying their renewable energy service. Statements made by Austin Energy regarding GreenChoice are reviewed by Green-e Energy to ensure compliance with consumer-protection standards. Find out more information about Green-e Energy.
Where does Austin Energy support wind farms in Texas?
From Far West Texas to the Texas Gulf Coast, Austin Energy’s diverse generation investments make a difference all across the state. The map and key below indicate wind farm locations that comprise GreenChoice.
Generation outputs for each location are in megawatts (MW).
- Jumbo Road — 300 MW
- Whirlwind — 60 MW
- Hackberry — 165 MW
- Karankawa — 206 MW
- Whitetail — 92 MW
- Gulf — 170 MW
- Los Vientos 2 — 200 MW
- Los Vientos 3 — 200 MW
- Los Vientos 4 — 200 MW
- Raymond — 200 MW
How will subscribing to GreenChoice affect my bill?
The GreenChoice SmartCents charge is $0.0075 (3/4 of one penny) per kilowatt-hour (kWh). This charge adds about $7.50 to a residential customer’s monthly bill (based on 1,000 kWh usage) to support clean Texas wind.
If I sign up for the program, may I later decide to cancel?
Residential and commercial subscribers who do not have a contract can unsubscribe at any time. Austin Energy requires two billing cycles to cancel a subscription. Customers can also resubscribe to GreenChoice during the next calendar year. Subscriptions are not transferable from customer to customer.
The Energizer and Patron subscriptions for commercial customers require contracts. The Patron option is currently under review. Check back for details about how to become a Patron.
GreenChoice Energy Is Green-e® Energy Certified
GreenChoice is Green-e Energy certified and meets the environmental and consumer-protection standards set forth by the nonprofit Center for Resource Solutions. Learn more at www.green-e.org.