When it comes to being environmentally friendly, we try to do as much as we can within reason. We recycle, we drive our hybrid vehicles sparingly, and avoid relying too heavily on our heating and cooling systems throughout the year.
When I was researching electricity suppliers, I came across Arcadia Power. Arcadia Power monitors your electric bill and purchases Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) in an amount equal to either 50% or 100% (depending on your plan) of your energy usage. This means that your house would then be powered either half or fully by clean energy. And it's as easy as setting up your account with Arcadia Power.
Here's a quick refresher on electricity supply works: (click to expand/hide this section)
When you buy electricity from your utility, they may not have created that actual kilowatt. Maybe they did, maybe the didn't… but to you it doesn't matter.
There's a supplier, a distributor (your utility), and then you. In most cases, you just deal with your utility company. You pay their floating rates, which they publish and get approved by the state's commission, and that's it.
In some states, you can select your supplier. That's when it gets interesting because suppliers can compete for your business. I've switched electricity suppliers before for gift cards and locked prices, which offer cost predictability over a floating rate.
Many of the companies compete on price per kilowatt-hour. Some also add the wrinkle of adding in clean sources of energy, like wind farms and solar.
How REC's Work
To understand how Arcadia Power works you first have to understand how Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) work.
Clean electricity is identical to traditional electricity and it can't be tracked once it enters the grid. Therefore, the concept of RECs was created. When a supplier produces a set amount of clean energy they also generate a REC. This REC can be sold and the buyer can then claim the use of that clean energy — even though the actual electricity they use is the same as it's always been.
If you buy enough RECs to cover the amount of electricity you use you can say that you are powered 100% by clean energy. If you buy enough RECs to cover 50% of your energy usage you can claim your usage is 50% clean.
So while buying RECs doesn't change the exact power you receive it does increase the demand for clean energy and therefore helps reduce society's reliance on traditional energy.
How Arcadia Power Works
Arcadia Power partners with many electric utilities across the United States to promote renewable energy.
It’s possible for Arcadia to be completely free and offset your carbon footprint when you follow these steps:
- Connect your electric utility account to Arcadia
- Pay your monthly electric bill
- Arcadia buys renewable energy credits matching 50% (Free Plan) or 100% (Premium Plan) of your monthly usage
Arcadia doesn’t install any equipment at your house which makes this a great option for renters and homeowners. You can monitor your monthly usage on Arcadia’s online dashboard.
It takes a few minutes to link your electric account to Arcadia and start earning renewable energy credits (RECs). Arcadia’s matching amount depends on which monthly plan you choose.
They have two tiers of service:
- Free: You get 50% clean energy, Arcadia Power will buy clean energy offsets for 50% of your usage.
- Premium: This costs 1.5 cents her kilowatt hour but gets you 100% clean energy.
When it comes time to pay your bill, you pay through Arcadia and they pay your utility. One nice benefit is that Arcadia accepts credit cards. If your current utility doesn't, as many don't, doing so can earn you rewards that you aren't otherwise getting. That could offset some of the premium service's fee or is a net benefit if you go with their free tier.
After collecting payment, Arcadia sends your monthly balance and the corresponding energy credits to your electric provider.
If you choose the free plan, the only noticeable difference is that Arcadia collects payment instead of your utility. Your rate stays the same and there are no service interruptions.
Who Can Join Arcadia Power?
If your utility is an Arcadia partner, you can create a free Arcadia account to select your monthly plan and payment method. Some utilities only offer the Free Plan. While you only offset 50% of your usage, it’s still a free way to promote clean energy.
If your utility doesn’t partner with Arcadia, you can still donate money each month to buy renewable energy credits. These credits support renewable energy projects to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.
Is Arcadia Power More Expensive?
Arcadia is completely free to use if you choose their free plan. It’s not every day that you can help the environment for free and this trait makes Arcadia unique.
If you choose Arcadia’s premium plan, you pay 1.5 cents per kilowatt hour plus your monthly electric bill. For every 100 kilowatts you consume, your bill increases $1.50 and the minimum monthly charge is $5.
There are two ways Arcadia can help you save money. First, residents in deregulated states can use the Smart Rate comparison tool to see which utility offers the best rate.
Second, utilities community solar access (hint: Bel Air, Maryland) can apply the energy credits to reduce your monthly bill.
In all this, you get a dashboard that gives you a report on your energy usage. It includes energy-saving tips, like running appliances at night when power is less expensive, as well as other useful pieces of information.
Who is Arcadia Power?
Founded in 2014, Arcadia Power helps you find cheaper electricity while supporting renewable energy production like wind and solar farms.
How Arcadia Saves You Money
First, if you hook up a utility to their service they'll give you a $20 Amazon gift card. It's free and no contracts, so it seems like a no brainer to test drive.
But more importantly, Arcadia Power monitors the energy market and if you live in a state with deregulated electricity markets (i.e. you can change electricity suppliers), they will help you switch so you get the lowest price. They don't lock you into contracts so you can switch anytime.
The states with deregulated electricity markets are:
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New York
- Rhode Island
- Washington D.C.
We signed up for an electric supplier a year ago for a three-year deal that gave us a $100 gift card. That was the best deal at the time and we locked in a fixed price for 36-months. Electricity prices change and while we've been paying lower rates this entire time, rates can fall. If so, we're still locked into higher rates unless we can afford to pay a $150 cancellation fee (effectively $50 after the gift card).
Arcadia looks for the lowest rates available plus, as more users sign up, negotiate special rates with providers. They can also save you the hassle of switching. This is great because the worst-case scenario in terms of price is whatever your utility is already charging you.
Community Solar Credits
Mounting solar panels on your roof isn’t an option for some as it’s too expensive or you’re a renter. Several utilities across the country have community solar instead of wind farms.
If you have community solar access, Arcadia applies the solar credits to save up to 5% on your monthly electric bill. How much you save depends on how productive the solar farm is.
Arcadia has community solar projects in these states:
- New York
- Rhode Island
- Washington, D.C.
Approximately 2,500 homes in these five states enjoy solar credits according to Arcadia.
How Arcadia Helps You Go Green
There are a few ways that Arcadia helps you go green if you don't go with the premium 100% clean energy option.
50% Wind Power Match
They have partnerships with wind farms across the country and will purchase wind energy that matches 50% of your energy use. It's completely free, they're just buying the certificates to offset 50% of your existing energy use.
I've seen some electricity suppliers offer 10% wind power for free but I've never seen 50%.
Support Local Solar
We've looked into solar panels on our house but given its location, we wouldn't get enough sun for it to be worth it. They have a national program as well as a local one for Washington D.C., Maryland, New York and Rhode Island. Arcadia has relationships with local solar farms and if you have one nearby, you can sign up with a click.
If there aren't local solar programs, you can sign up for national programs as well.
Can You Do This Yourself?
Sure – nothing stops you from finding a green energy supplier and sending them money. 🙂
How Does Arcadia Make Money
Up until now, it doesn't look like Arcadia charges you, the customer, any money.
So how do they make money?
Arcadia makes money from the electric suppliers when they connect you to clean energy. They only switch you when the rate you pay is lower so presumably, the supplier has enough margin to pay Arcadia a fee as well.
Arcadia's only premium offering, which you pay extra for, is the 100% wind program. The price of this is just 1.5 cents per kilowatt-hour with a $5 minimum. Everything else is free. The website mentions “billing” a lot because you can set it up so that you pay Arcadia, and you can pay with a credit card without fees, and they pay your utility.
It feels like a no brainer unless I'm missing something?
Here's what reader Whitney shared about her experience:
Sometimes it's nice just to help out!
Is Arcadia Power Legit?
As you can tell by this Arcadia Power review, this is a legit way to promote renewable energy, offset your carbon footprint, and possibly save money. There are no hidden fees and you can track your monthly electricity usage and earned credits on the Arcadia dashboard.
Arcadia also has a Trustpilot score of 4.7 out of 5 stars. Most reviews like how easy it easy to support clean energy and a good alternative to installing solar panels. A few bad reviews mention a poor experience when switching providers or closing their Arcadia account.
Pros and Cons
- A free way to earn renewable energy credits
- Homeowners and renters can join
- Available across the United States
- Community solar credits can reduce your monthly bill up to 5%
- Compares utility provider rates in deregulated states
- No long-term contracts
- Credit card payments have no extra fees
- Not every electric utility partners with Arcadia
- Wind energy credits do not reduce monthly bill (but support clean energy)
- Premium plan can be expensive if you have a high energy bill
- Community solar is only available in five states
Arcadia Power is a free and effortless way to offset your electricity usage. Your efforts can help make renewable energy become more common and affordable.