The price of wind and solar continues to dip as more renewable farms and storage options pop up on the market. According to a recent report by Bloomberg, coal and gas are facing a “mounting threat to their position in the world’s electricity-generation mix,” and the latest forecasts say renewable energy will be less expensive than coal in as little as two years.
U.S. energy providers are betting on a renewable future in some pretty unlikely places. The East Kentucky Power Cooperative, a historically huge coal industry, is turning an old strip mine into a solar farm as Georgetown, Texas, a Republican-led town, now runs entirely on renewables. These commitments are a sign that many of us, regardless of ideology or political stance, can agree that switching over to renewables just makes sense.
And it’s not just cities and major corporations that are driving this renewable renaissance. “For the longest time, huge companies were driving the market—Fortune 500 companies that had teams dedicated to this stuff. Now, we’re trying to make it simpler for people in homes or apartments to make these purchases,” explains Bhatraju, hopeful that Arcadia’s online platform will help people who don’t have time or know-how to look through clean energy options and choose one that will save them the most money and emissions. No matter where you live in the United States, Arcadia make it possible to source at least 50 percent of your energy from a utility plant with just a few clicks. Since its founding in 2014, the company has connected 12,000 customers to renewables and averted over 320,000 tons of CO2 emissions—the equivalent of taking 68,685 cars off the road for a year.
Arcadia predicts that it will soon be even easier to quickly switch over to renewable energy, thanks to a burgeoning community solar market. These large-scale solar farms are privately managed by community members and put energy back into the local grid. States that have community solar legislation in place, such as Colorado, Massachusetts, and New York, place tariffs on the service so that those who sign onto the farm can lock in a fixed electric bill price for 20 years.
“To me, that’s the future of renewables in the U.S.,” says Bhatraju. “When you can get all the efficiencies of building a large, centrally located product and you can give customers the ability to connect that to rate, it’s huge.” These projects are usually installed on unused land like abandoned lots, superfund sites, or capped landfills, so they can help clean up communities while creating new jobs.
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