How RECs support a fossil-fuel-free future

on March 5, 2021

When members join Arcadia, they are not just committing to a cleaner power bill for themselves, they are joining a community of people that are working to clean up our energy grid for good. We do this by connecting members to clean energy sources, such as community solar, and by matching their usage with wind power through Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs).

Every REC purchase, big or small, demonstrates demand for more clean energy projects.

Even if you have solar panels on your roof, a community solar farm in your neighborhood, or a wind turbine in your backyard, RECs are still used. And for the majority of us who don’t have these physical assets nearby, they are our best access point to clean energy.

Here’s why: Once clean energy enters the grid, it’s impossible to track exactly where those clean electrons end up. All electrons look the same, whether they were generated by coal, nuclear, or solar. It’s like pouring a glass of purified water into a dirty lake and then trying to track where the clean water went. RECs help clear that up.

Every time a wind turbine generates energy for the power grid, a REC is created and sold to a company or individual who then claims its usage. Once sold, that energy has officially been used, the REC is retired, and it cannot be traded, donated, or resold. It’s the main method for tracking clean energy production and — perhaps most importantly — every REC purchase, big or small, demonstrates demand for more clean energy projects.

But for the concept of RECs to work, it’s vital that their sourcing and quality be effectively tracked and certified across the industry. Not all RECs are created equal and their quality is graded based on where they came from and when. We ensure that all of our RECs meet or surpass the Green-e* standards of certification, meaning:

  • The energy was generated recently — within the same calendar year, the first three months of the following year, or the last six months of the prior calendar year.
  • The energy came from farms that were built (or significantly upgraded) within the last 15 years.

While Arcadia has internal systems in place to ensure our RECs meet those quality specifications, we also enlist the support of an external firm to conduct a comprehensive audit of all our RECs each year.


Download our most recent REC audit from Deloitte


When we match your monthly energy usage with RECs, it means that your home is officially powered by clean energy and that your dollars are supporting the growth of quality wind farms across the country. And it’s not just wind energy that RECs support. By making REC-based wind energy as easy as possible for anyone to opt into, we’ve grown our community to over 300,000 members in just a few years. This member base has enabled us to build 40+ new community solar farms across the country. And with countless more solar projects on the horizon, it’s a testament to the power and opportunity that comes from a community-driven business in driving the fossil-fuel-free future.