FAQ about Carbon Offsets and Renewable Energy Certificates

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What are Renewable Energy Certificates?

A Renewable Energy Certificate (aka Renewable Energy Credit) represents 1 Megawatt-hour of power produced by a renewable resource such as wind or solar. The owner of the REC is the legal owner of the power, and only the owner of a REC can claim to be renewably powered.
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What are Carbon Offsets?

A Carbon Offset represents the decrease of one metric ton (2.205 lbs) of carbon dioxide emissions. The reduction is caused by projects developed to reduce the emissions, and by purchasing offsets, you help finance these projects. These offsets can be bought, traded, and sold.
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What is the difference between RECs and Carbon Offsets?

RECs help the environment by producing energy from renewable resources rather than polluting resources. Carbon Offsets help offset carbon emissions, a main contributor to global warming.

For instance, a company may issue a Carbon Offset in the form of trees planted, which suck up carbon from the atmosphere, offsetting earlier emissions. RECs replace carbon-emitting energy with clean energy, whereas Carbon Offsets address carbon already emitted, only a symptom of the problem.
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Can I buy RECs from any state?

Yes. Not all states have a Renewable Portfolio Standard, which requires a certain percentage of a state's energy to be produced from renewable resources, but if you buy a REC, that REC represents 1 Megawatt-hour of clean energy produced from somewhere, even out of state.
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Does the REC show up on my utility bill?

When you buy RECs from FFRT, they do not show up on your utility bill. Our billing and payment arrangement with you are separate from your utility bills.
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How can RECs be "non-additional" cost?

Your utility still provides your electricity, but you buy RECs that represent electricity produced from clean resources. However, when you donate to FFRT and receive a tax write off for the donation, that reduces the total cost to you of the REC. Further, investment in renewable energy production, such as wind and solar power can result in up to 35% of total investment in tax credits. Then the donation of that equipment to the foundation creates another tax write off equal to your tax bracket percentage. Then FFRT splits the power with you reducing your demand for power from the utility. FFRT sells its portion of the power and RECs from the co-opted generating capacity and uses that money to fund grants for more investment in renewable energy. Combining these approaches can accelrate the rate of return on investment (ROI) by several times. In a very short time you have reduced your utility bill to zero, and can actually make money by selling excess power and RECs to others.

Electricity from your utility + Renewable Energy Certificates + Tax Credits + Tax Write Offs + Reduced Power Costs + Revenue From Grants, Excess Power, and REC sales = Green Powe and a profit.
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What if my landlord pays for my utilities?

You can still buy RECs to account for the average home's energy usage.But an even better solution would be to introduce your landlord to FFRT and let us show him how greening his rental units can put more green in his pocket.
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How often do I need to purchase RECs?

You could buy RECs according to how much electricity you use during a given amount of time. Many homes and businesses buy RECs to account for electricity used in a month or year. But the better approach is to donate RECs through FFRT. This will not only get your household on completely green energy, but enable you to take a 100% tax write-off for making the donation. All of the RECs purchased with your donation will be recorded on the donation receipt we sent to you, so you can be sure your donations are making a difference and offsetting your desired level of energy usage with renewable sources.
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How much does a REC cost?

The price varies depending on the size of the contract, but FFRT keeps it simple by using the published statistics for average usage by households. The average U.S. home uses 800 kilowatt-hours per month, amounting to about $15/month to purchase enough RECs for the energy they use.
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What is a kilowatt-hour?

A kilowatt-hour is 1 kilowatt of power produced (or used) for 1 hour. For instance, if you have an appliance that demands 1 kilowatt of power to run, then a kilowatt-hour is enough electricity to run that appliance for 1 hour. One horsepower is approximately 750 watts of electrical power. After losses due to inefficiency in power equipment a rule of thumb is one kilowat per horsepower needed. So if you use electric tools such as saws or an electric lawn mower for example, you can use this formula to estimate how much power they consume.
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What does it take to generate a kilowatt-hour?

A mid-sized modern wind turbine that you might see while you drive by a windy hillside might have a capacity of 1 Megawatt. That's 1000 kilowatts. When the wind turbine spins at full capacity for 1 hour, its output is 1 Megawatt-hour. That's enough to power an average U.S. home for about 3 days.

Technically speaking, a kilowatt is 1,000 watts of electricity. To put this in perspective we can compare watts to "horsepower," a unit of energy we hear a lot about. One horesepower is equal to 33,000 Lb/Ft/Min (Pound Feet per Minute) or the ability to lift 1,000 pounds vertically 1 foot in one minute, or 1 pound 33,000 feet in one minute. The equivalent energy in watts is 746 watts. So, 1,000 watts or "one kilowatt" is just over 1 horsepower. When you factor in losses from friction and electrical losses, a rule of thumb is that it requires just about 1 kilowatt of electricity in to get one horsepower of usable energy out. So, one kilowatt hour is one thousand watts delivered over one hour, or roughly 1.4 horsepower hours.
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Why is Foundation For Responsible Technology different?

Foundation For Responsible Technology is the only participant in the renewable energy and clean air markets that enables individuals and companies to obtain both tax credits and grant money for participating in clean/green energy. These benefits are in addition to the various tax credits available for investments in qualifying "green" technologies. A big plus to this is that every dollar that goes to the Foundation For Responsible Technology furthers our ability to develop renewable and responsible energy technologies as part of our ongoing public interest mandate. For more information on what makes FFRT unique, click here.
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What is the importance of "Additionality"?

Additionality distinguishes renewable energy produced as a result of your action from the clean energy that would be produced anyway in business-as-usual cases. We guarantee that the RECs purchased by FFRT with your donations will increase the amount of renewable energy created, and would not have been created without the purchase of an REC by us.
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How do RECs decrease pollution? Do they make a difference?

Yes. By donating REC purchases through FFRT you are choosing to have your home or business powered by renewable resources, rather than fossil fuels that pollute. Every Watt of power going into the electric grid from renewable sources displaces an equal amount of power from other sources. Since all electricity is the same, only the sources of that eletricty can be different. So, even though it is not possible to determine where the energy to your specific home is coming from, you can be sure that every REC purchased with your donation is putting renewable energy into the system of an equal amount.

This concept is sometimes difficult to understand. So, a good anaolgy is to think of electricity llike water flowing through a system of pipes to a million homes from dozens of different wells. Some of the wells may be polluted and some of them may be pristine. Even though it would be impossible to make sure that the water coming to your home is from a pritine well, by investing in the drilling of clean wells which cause the shut down of dirty wells, you can be sure that the quality of the the water in the system is iproving in direct proportion to the amount of new pristine water entering the system and displacing the dirty water. The same thing happens with clean energy. RECs represent an investment in the production of clean power emtering the grid.
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What are the advantages of purchasing RECs?

By purchasing a REC, you are helping the environment and driving the transition to renewable energy. Homes and busineses can honestly claim to be powered by green energy. For businesses this satisfies today's eco-conscious customers and is a highly effective marketing tool for advertising your company's environmental commitment. When the ability to do all this is combined with the increase in net revenues generated FFRT's programs, there is simply no excuse for not going green with FFRT.
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--- Be the transition to renewable energy ---