As an eco-conscious energy consumer, you’re looking for easy ways to support the renewable energy future and reduce your own carbon footprint. Your home’s electricity is a great place to start, but navigating the retail electricity industry isn’t a walk in the park—especially if you’re trying to go greener at an affordable price.
If you live in a deregulated energy market, you might already know that your electricity supply is not tied to your utility company. You have the choice to shop around third-party electricity suppliers to try and find a lower rate and/or a greener option (think: electricity sourced from renewables instead of fossil fuels). But this isn’t easy.
Shopping the marketplace can be a major time drain. You have to worry about:
Above all, how do you know what a “good” supply price is for what’s being offered? You know what you’re currently paying your utility for electricity, but if your current plan isn’t 100% backed by renewable resources, then that’s not a relevant comparison or benchmark if your goal is switching to fully renewable.
That’s because the utility’s basic service is a “mixed energy” plan. “Mixed” refers to the energy sources that contribute to the power grid—such as fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas or renewable sources like solar, wind and hydro. A mixed energy plan means the source of energy for that plan is stemming from part fossil fuels, part renewables. And while many states do require utilities to support a minimum percentage of renewable energy resources in their mixed plans, it’s a far cry from 100%.
We developed and regularly update the Perch Green Index (PGI) to better estimate the savings we can bring consumers on 100% renewable electricity compared to average market rates—and help them navigate the renewable retail energy market.
For renters, homeowners and local businesses, the PGI collects data from state-hosted electricity shopping sites—and gives you the average cost of buying 100% renewable energy in your area, based on the available 100% or more renewable plans being offered by local suppliers. It’s updated every week so you’re always getting current, relevant pricing data.
This provides a baseline for how much you could be paying, on average, to purchase electricity for your home that is fully backed by renewable resources. This baseline was previously non-existent in the retail renewable energy industry, even though it’s vital information that helps consumers compare and ultimately purchase a better product when shopping the electric supply market.
The industry needed something like the PGI for a few reasons.
Deregulation has been great for consumer choice, but it also gave rise to a lot of players all vying for your business. Consumer choice can quickly turn into consumer confusion.
Have you ever received a phone call, email, direct mailer or some other communication about switching to cleaner electricity? This may have come from a third-party supplier or even from your city or town offering a community-based plan. They’ll try to lock you into an attractive seeming rate plan often on a longer-term contract.
How do you decipher what each entity is offering, which is right for you, or whether what they’re promising is even a good price, now and in the future?
Short answer: you can’t. At least, not without a lot of work on your part.
Not to mention, the price of electricity is always fluctuating. Suppliers are constantly trying to offer more competitive rates based on the ebbs and flows of electricity production costs and changes in the utility “price to compare.” This is good for consumer savings opportunities—unless the plan you’re locked into becomes more expensive than other competitive options. Can you switch to something lower? What about termination fees? This understandably may lead to consumer fear and uncertainty, and unwillingness to make changes.
Remediating some of this confusion starts with having a “price to compare” for 100% renewable energy. Without that, consumers don’t really know the cost of going green with their home's electricity. Sure, you understand it might cost more than your current basic mixed electricity plan, but how much more?
Energy terminology: “Price to compare” is industry speak for the average cost of electricity supply on a utility default basic service plan. It’s what a utility paid to acquire that electricity supply and doesn’t factor in the non-supply delivery charges. Third-party suppliers often use this as a benchmark to try and undercut one another (and the utility)—offering a rate lower than the industry’s “price to compare.”
Before, you didn’t have an easy way to see the average price of 100% renewable energy in your area across all the companies offering such a plan. While you may have found one price via a third-party supplier, or your city/town offered another price through a community choice plan—you had no baseline to know whether they were offering competitive rates or even what a “competitive” rate is for 100% renewable.
Utility companies only make their basic or default service rates available to the public. Historically, this utility supply rate, since it’s publicly available, has been used as a “price to compare” rate of which other retailers (the third-party suppliers) try to compete against to demonstrate savings for you.
As we know, that basic or default service is not a 100% renewable plan. It’s generally a mix of fossil fuel and renewable energy (meeting state required minimums for supporting renewable resources but nowhere close to 100%).
When evaluating the cost you should be paying for 100% renewable energy, it doesn’t make sense to compare it with mixed energy. You simply can’t use the existing default utility service “price to compare” as your baseline.
That’s like comparing the price of organic apples to pesticide sprayed non-organic apples. Buying organic apples is better for your health and will reduce your exposure to pesticides—so understandably, they’re priced differently than non-organic apples.
So when you’re shopping the electricity marketplace for a 100% renewable plan, you’ve had no data to help you understand what a good rate is.
The PGI solves for these problems. It’s the only industry tool that gives consumers the average supply price of 100% or more renewable energy plans in their area—vital information that helps you compare and ultimately purchase a better product when shopping the electricity supply market.
We establish an updated PGI every week, so it’s always relevant data. Our technology scans the market for all available prices on 100% or more renewable energy and establishes the weekly index for each area we serve.
If you live in a state that we serve, we aren’t just establishing the index at a statewide level—but also for every zip code and service area in the state. The Perch Green Index showcases the average price of 100% renewable energy available in your specific zip code. So if you’re a consumer, it gives you a very accurate and helpful baseline for what a reasonable price is for a 100% renewable electricity plan.
More on our PGI calculations: When calculating the average rate on 100% renewable energy plans, we’ll exclude those that offer misleadingly low introductory rates for one month or less (“teaser rates”), which may entice consumers to sign up only to result in higher prices after the introductory one-month period. This keeps the PGI from being influenced by potentially deceptive tactics from suppliers.
Using our innovative Perch Green Index as a foundation, Perch takes it even further to help you save money compared to the wide range of potential alternatives. If you’ve signed up for Perch and selected a 100% renewable plan, we’ll find you one that is better than the PGI.
Our ultimate goal is to bring customers savings compared to the prices available in the market.
Before, it was hard to know what the market prices for a 100% renewable energy plan actually were. The PGI provides that information, and then Perch’s service uses it to find you savings. We take the heavy burden of shopping the market off of the consumer. We’ll do it for you and find a plan that beats the PGI, so you know you’re getting a lower rate than the average of 100% or more available renewable options.
If the PGI is the average going rate for 100% or more renewable energy in your area, Perch’s service is the equivalent of finding you a sale. We serve as your personal shopper who only makes money as a percentage of savings we find you compared to the PGI marketplace average.
Sticking with the apple example, imagine you’re shopping for organic apples. Multiple grocery stores are selling the same exact organic apples. If you shop around long enough—going to every store within a reasonable distance, browsing farmers’ markets, local co-ops, etc—you just might find the one place that’s having a sale on those organic apples. They’re offering them at a lower price than the average of all the other places.
But this shopping process is a lot of work and can be time-consuming. So Perch does the shopping for you—finding you the one store (in our case, the one energy supplier) who’s offering the same product (100% renewable energy) at a lower price than the average of everyone else.