RECs, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, represent the rights to the environmental, social, and other non-power qualities of renewable electricity generation. For example, avoided carbon dioxide emissions. A REC is proof that 1 megawatt-hour (1000 kilowatt-hours) of electricity was generated from an eligible renewable energy resource. For reference, it takes approximately 1.25 RECs to offsets a typical college students energy use for 1 year. A REC, and its associated attributes and benefits, can be sold separately from the underlying electricity associated with a renewable-based generation source.

RECs provide buyers flexibility:

  • In procuring green power across a diverse geographical area.
  • In applying the renewable attributes to the electricity use at their location of choice.

This flexibility allows indivudals to support renewable energy development and protect the environment when green power products are not readily available.

How do RECs work?

All grid-tied renewable-based electricity generators produce two distinct products:

  • Electricity (electrons)
  • RECs

At the point of generation, both product components can be sold together or separately, as a bundled or unbundled product. In either case, the renewable generator feeds the physical electricity onto the electricity grid, where it mixes with electricity from other generation sources, such as coal and natural gas. Since electrons from all generation sources are indistinguishable, it is impossible to track unique electrons from a specific point of generation to a specific point of use.

If the electricity and the associated RECs are sold to separate buyers, the electricity is no longer considered “renewable” or “green.” The REC product is what conveys the attributes and benefits of the renewable electricity, not the electricity itself.

RECs serve the role of laying claim to and accounting for the associated attributes of renewable-based generation. The REC and the associated underlying electricity take separate pathways to the point of end use (see diagrams below). As renewable generators produce electricity, they have a positive impact, reducing the need for fossil fuel-based generation sources to meet consumer demand. RECs embody these positive environmental impacts and convey these benefits to the REC owner.

There are two approaches to verifying REC ownership and the right to make environmental claims: REC contract/audits and REC tracking systems. Both of these approaches help buyers avoid double counting and double claims to ensure against fraud. When these credits are sold, traded or bartered the owner of the REC can claim to have purchased renewable energy.

You can purchase your RECs by clicking HERE

Conventional vs Renewable Power image EPA REC Diagram