A Consumer Guide to Green Power in Canada




How to Buy Green Power

Green Power is finally shedding its niche-market status and becoming a realistic option for more and more Canadian consumers. But, while Green Power is becoming cheaper and easier to find than ever before, consumers now face an array of Green Power options, new terminology and sometimes dubious claims about the "greenness" of certain Green Power offerings. This buyers' guide sets out the options and explains what you are getting when you sign up to buy Green Power.

In general, it costs more to generate electricity from Green Power sources than from conventional sources, although these costs are expected to come down as the technologies are further developed and become more established. Also, our electricity pricing system doesn't take into account the savings to society of the cleaner environment and reduced climate change impacts associated with the use of Green Power. When developers of Green Power sell their electricity to utilities, the amount they are paid often does not cover all their costs. Consumers who buy Green Power are paying a premium that is essentially the difference between the standard price the developer gets for the sale of electricity and the cost to generate it through Green Power. This premium can be paid on a regular electricity bill where bundled green power is available or can be paid separately by buying Green Power certificates. Consumers who pay this premium are "greening" their electricity and helping to build a market for Green Power.

The options include:

"Bundled" Green Power – This option offers the opportunity for consumers to pay for Green Power on their regular electricity bill. It is available to certain consumers in Eastern British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia. Even though a utility might be generating Green Power and putting it into the grid, it is physically impossible to ensure that "green electrons" from a green power facility are being delivered to a certain location. However, the utility can guarantee that Green Power is part of the overall power mix in the quantities it retails to its customers. In some areas, these packages are only available to larger industrial or commercial customers.

Green Power Certificates – This option offers the opportunity for consumers to pay for Green Power separately from their regular electricity bills. It is a way for consumers to support the use and development of renewable energy and is available to all Canadians through provincial and national programs

The certificates, also known as Green Tags, represent a specified amount of green electricity added to the grid on behalf of the customer. Revenue from the certificates helps Green Power developers to compete in the wholesale electricity market by covering the extra cost of producing this power. Especially in cases where the local electricity retailer does not offer a bundled green power product, Green Power certificates enable consumers to "green" their electricity by adding Green Power attributes (such as reduced pollution) to the electricity they consume.

Click on the links below for summaries of national and provincial Green Power programs. In each case, the first table shows marketers selling "bundled" Green Power and the second lists sources for Green Power certificates.

National Programs


Map of Canada British Columbia Alberta Saskatchewan Manitoba Ontario Quebec Newfoundland New Brunswick Prince Edward Island Nova Scotia

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