Environment

A new Kickstarter campaign aims to make solar energy accessible to everyone.

The SunPort is a device that you plug into an electrical outlet. It allows you to track that outlet’s energy usage, and the company purchases enough Renewable Energy Certificates to compensate for the electricity that was used to power your laptop or lamp.

The device costs $49.

One Renewable Energy Certificate, or REC, is generated with each megawatt hour of electricity produced by renewable sources, whether by wind, solar, biomass or hydropower. So if your home or business is getting electricity from fossil fuels, buying a REC means you take ownership of that bit of renewable energy, and it helps negate the environmental damage done providing power to your home. Once a REC is purchased, it’s retired, so no one else can take credit for that unit of renewable energy.

In SunPort’s case, they’re only buying RECs from solar panels. And as the creator told CNET last week, he sees it as a way to level the solar playing field.

From CNET:

“It’s a small, relatively easy step that can start to tip the balance,” explains engineer, solar entrepreneur and SunPort creator Paul Droege. “If we can just sort of step on the gas by causing more demand, it hastens the time until we actually have a dominant renewable energy grid, instead of the grid we’ve got today that’s about seven-eighths non-renewable.”

It’s not just demand that SunPort is looking to boost, either. For each dollar ReChoice spends purchasing S-RECs, it commits a matching dollar to the installation of new solar panels through a solar endowment program. That means that using a SunPort in your home will help contribute to the solar supply, too.

The company said the $49 for the device covers REC purchases for the first year; after that, they’ll likely start charging a dollar or two a month to pay for the RECs.

SunPort still has a way to go on its Kickstarter campaign, so it may never become a reality. But it seems similar in concept to Arcadia Power, which WFPL took a critical look at last year.

One of the benefits of companies and devices such as these is that they track all your energy usage (whether for your whole house or one outlet), so you can be assured that you’re using 100 percent renewable energy to power your home (or an outlet).

It might not be as trendy, but you can also sign up for Louisville Gas & Electric’s Green Energy Program, where for $5 a month you can buy about 1,750 kilowatt hours of RECs. In 2015, all of the RECs LG&E purchased came from Missouri wind farms, according to the program’s website. And LG&E’s program is overseen by the Public Service Commission, so there’s an extra layer of scrutiny.

Here’s a link to SunPort’s Kickstarter; as of Monday afternoon, the project was about $61,500 toward its $75,000 goal.