Cutting Carbon V

Call me stupid, but last week I went to my utility company and asked them to charge more for my electricity. The reason is not a terminal loss of common sense, but I wanted to switch to a tariff that is based solely on renewable energy sources. The default tariff that I had paid for so far uses an energy mix consisting of 34% nuclear power (this alone was a reason to switch), 45% fossil fuels (mainly coal and gas), and only 21% renewable sources like water, wind, or solar energy. The new tariff, which takes effect on May 1st, uses 100% renewable sources throughout. I've calculated that I'll have to pay an extra EUR 2.50 (approx. USD 3.00) each month for this extra peace of mind. Think about that. The equivalent of one glass of beer a month.

Of course, switching the tariff doesn't make my radio blast louder or change the light from my light bulbs. Also, it's not like all "good" electrons arrive in my household and the "bad" ones in my neighbor's. Most utilities don't run all power plants themselves, but they purchase some or all electric power as needed from companies running such plants. Now that I pay more for the same amount of electrical power, the company is obliged to purchase more power from a supplier that runs on renewable energy sources only. Last year's bill shows that I consume approx. 740kWh of electrical power per year (before I started to cut my carbon dioxide emissions). Switching the tariff thus avoids 0.37 gram (0.013oz) of radioactive waste (there is no secure storage facility in Germany, so each milligram is one too much) as well as 169.5 kg (374lb) of carbon dioxide emissions per year. In other words, 18 Euro-Cent (approx. 23 US-Cent) keep 1 kg of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere.

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