Cheap energy means green energy
On January 21, 2019, wind rocked the state of Texas, crushing all previous records of generation. That day, wind generation peaked at 19.6 gigawatts (a gigawatt is enough to power 200 thousand homes at peak times) and made up nearly 50% of the energy mix on the grid during the evening hours and over 40% of the total mix for the entire day.
For those that are eco-conscious, that’s great news. But what about those that are price conscious? If you look at most 100% “green” plans on the market, they make it seem like you have to pay a markup to do good by the planet. So what did prices settle at on that blustery winter day?
A lovely, low rate of 1.3¢/kWh for energy-only.
There's a saying we have here at Griddy, “When it's cheapest, it's greenest.” In Texas, this is especially true because green can make up to 50% of the energy on the grid at any point in time. Side note: Even if you are on a “100% green” plan, that does not mean the energy you use is 100% green. You are still using whatever energy mix is on the grid at the moment.
In this chart, you’ll see a near-perfect correlation between prices and how much green is on the stack. When there's not a lot of green, prices tend to be much higher, and when there's a lot of green on the stack, prices tend to be much cheaper. When the wind blows hard it brings a tremendous amount of zero-marginal-cost electricity onto the grid.
When you look at combined-cycle natural gas and nuclear energy – which make up about 60% of the energy mix – there is a huge cost to starting and stopping them so they prefer to always remain on and running. While natural gas emits 50-60% less carbon than coal, it is still way higher than wind.
Then we have less-efficient power plants, a.k.a. “peaker plants.” If prices are generally lower with green energy, the reverse is also true. Prices get really expensive when “peaker plants” come online. Peaker plants turn on when the grid has to keep up with high demand. Because of this, their energy is much pricier than the steadier “base-load” power plants like gas and nuclear, which could be a difference of $55/mWh vs only $20/mWh.
But luckily we know when these peaker plants are most likely to go online – when consumption is the highest in the afternoons and early evenings. If consumers can curtail consumption from 3-6 p.m., and shift usage to cheaper times of day, then the grid doesn’t’ have to rely on these dirty energy sources.
This means that when you use Griddy to avoid using electricity because of high prices, you're also avoiding using electricity that is high in carbon emissions. With Griddy, you’ll always be able to check when prices are high (e.g. energy is dirty) or when prices are low (e.g. energy is green). This way you are in control of your carbon footprint. Great for you, great for your wallet, and great for the environment.