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It may seem peculiar to find a review of a renewable energy provider on a personal finance website. However, it is not as odd as it may seem at first. Why? Because with Arcadia, it is possible to both help the environment through purchasing renewable and lower your electric bill at the same time. That’s why, in this Arcadia review, I am going to share with you everything you need to know about the service, including whether you can save money while simultaneously being green.
What is Arcadia?
In 2019, 17.6% of U.S. utility-scale electricity generation came from renewable sources. With the looming threat of climate change, a company called Arcadia (formerly Arcadia Power) set out to help derive more of our electricity from renewable sources.
Arcadia is not a utility company, nor do they supply green energy themselves. Instead, Arcadia helps connect your power usage to green energy sources so that, in essence, you can power your home with renewable energy.
How does Arcadia Work?
Before I explain how Arcadia works, it’s helpful to understand a little bit about how the electric power grid works.
Electricity comes from all sorts of sources, including natural gas, coal, nuclear, wind, hydropower, solar, and more. By the time it reaches your home, though, it’s impossible to know where that electricity was derived. Why? Because electricity from all sources is plugged into the grid and mixed together. There is no way to track electricity once it’s in the grid.
So, if Arcadia can’t directly supply you with green energy, how does it work?
Let’s start with the basics. Arcadia is not a utility provider or an energy supplier, but rather it works with your utility provider and energy supplier.
When you sign up for Arcadia, you’ll connect your current utility provider. Connecting your utility provider allows Arcadia to understand your monthly energy usage. Arcadia then purchases the equivalent green energy to match your energy use through something called renewable energy certificates.
What are Renewable Energy Certificates?
In the U.S., green energy is tracked through a system called renewable energy certificates (or RECs for short).
When green energy is created (from wind, solar, hydropower, or geothermal power), it is tracked. For every 1 MWh of electricity created, one renewable energy certificate is created.
The renewable energy certificates are then sold to buyers, considered used, then retired.
While this may seem complicated, renewable energy certificates are currently the only way to track renewable energy (because of all the electricity sources plugged into the grid). Anytime a company claims to be using renewable energy, it’s through using RECs.
Think of Arcadia as the middleman who sources, verifies, purchases, and then retires renewable energy certificates for you.
Why Do RECs Matter?
Okay, so Arcadia buys RECs on your behalf, but why does that matter? Because when you purchase RECs, you help subsidize renewable energy creation and provide an incentive to create new renewable energy sources.
To get super geeky, all electricity providers sell energy into the grid at the same price, regardless of the type of energy (green or not). However, renewable energy producers can also sell RECs into the market, creating an additional income source that incentivizes renewable power generation.
Businesses and institutions purchase RECs to help meet renewable targets. However, residential consumers have bought very few RECs to date. For this reason, as of now, the supply of RECs far exceeds demand.
That’s where Arcadia comes in. Arcadia aims to drive demand for RECs, thus driving higher prices for RECs, bolstering incentives for additional renewable energy development.
When you participate in Arcadia, you are essentially buying green energy, increasing incentives to create green energy, and driving the world towards a more sustainable future.
Want to learn more about RECs? Check out this post by Arcadia to learn more or watch the video below from the EPA.
Arcadia Membership Options
Next, in this Arcadia review, you may be wondering how much does Arcadia cost? Of course, renewable energy certificates aren’t free, right? Correct.
Arcadia’s regular plan comes in at just $5 per month. For this price, Arcadia will offset 100% of your electric usage with renewable energy certificates, in effect, powering your home entirely with renewable energy.
In addition to its regular plan at $5 per month, Arcadia does offer a Basic plan for select users. If you are not eligible for the regular plan, Arcadia will let you know, and you can sign up for their Basic plan.
With the Basic plan, you select the amount of renewable energy you wish to match each month at the cost of 1.5 cents per kWh. For example, if you match 500 kWh of electricity, the cost would be $7.50 per month.
For most folks, though, you’ll just use the regular plan for $5 per month.
Again, the membership fees are what Arcadia uses to buy renewable energy certificates on your behalf.
I want to flag that you will notice a different pricing structure that included a free plan in many other Arcadia reviews. However, Arcadia updated its pricing structure in 2020. Rest assured, though, that the information in this Arcadia review is, in fact, the current structure.
Now, at this point, you may be thinking that Arcadia is more expensive than just paying your regular utility bill. However, where Arcadia shines is, it can help you save money in ways that may more than offset its $5 per month plan fee.
Can Arcadia Save You Money?
There are several ways Arcadia can save you money. Let’s check them out!
Certain states have a deregulated electricity market. What this means is that consumers can choose their electric supplier. Why does this matter? Because certain suppliers may offer better rates on your electricity. In other words, if you live in a state with deregulated utilities, you’ll want to find the supplier that provides the lowest rate.
In states with a deregulated energy market, Arcadia offers a program called Smart Rate. With Smart Rate, Arcadia will be on the lookout for the best possible rate on your electricity.
When Arcadia finds a lower rate, it handles the process of switching to that supplier, in turn saving you money. Remember, your utility provider still manages the process of delivering your electricity; the only difference is you’re choosing which grid supplier you want to pay.
You may be wondering, how much can you save with Smart Rate? On average, Arcadia members who are on energy contracts with Smart Rate save 20%!
Smart Rate is available in the following states: Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Washington D.C.
In addition to helping you acquire green energy with RECs, Arcadia also works with local communities to make solar installations possible. This is where Community Solar comes in.
What is Community Solar, you ask? Arcadia works with state legislators to pass laws that allow consumers to use a portion of their utility bill to support local solar farms. When you use Community Solar, you can receive a statement credit on your electric bill in exchange for the solar you are providing.
In practice, think of it as subscribing to a share of a solar farm. When that solar farm produces electricity, your local utility buys its electricity. Because you helped fund the solar farm, you keep a share of the profits from the sale of energy in the form of a credit on your utility bill.
Arcadia takes care of all the legwork, and you’ll receive a credit directly on your electric bill.
Arcadia offers Community Solar on both a local and national level. Local solar projects have no upfront cost, and Arcadia members receive back a percentage of the savings created by their solar panel subscription. Where the local option isn’t available, the national option allows you to fund solar panels upfront and receive savings on a long-term basis.
By increasing demand for solar power, demand for fossil fuels declines, helping to fuel the green energy transition. And, you save money along the way, too!
To learn more about community solar, check out this detailed post from Arcadia.
Home Efficiency Tips
Finally, the last way Arcadia can help you save money is through its home efficiency tips. Arcadia has dozens of ideas to help you save on your electric bill.
The Arcadia website has a checklist to help you find ideas to save electricity.
Arcadia: My Experience
To make this Arcadia review more robust, I want to share with you my experience using Arcadia. I have been using Arcadia for several years, and I have nothing but positive things to say about it.
One of the coolest things about Arcadia is that you can track your impact. Arcadia’s dashboard shows you things like how much green energy you have purchased, the impact of your CO2 emissions, and more.
Overall, while I have received savings from Arcadia’s Smart Rate program, using Arcadia has likely cost me a few additional dollars per month. However, knowing that I am effectively using 100% renewable energy to power my home has made this a worthwhile investment.
Arcadia is an inexpensive way to help transition the world towards more renewable energy.
This Arcadia review wouldn’t be complete without covering some of the most frequently asked questions. So, let’s get started!
How do I Sign-Up Arcadia?
Joining Arcadia is easy! Simply click this link to get started. You’ll enter your zip code and utility provider to confirm that you’re eligible to join. Then, just follow the prompts! When you sign up, you’ll be able to try out Arcadia risk-free for 30 days.
And, as an added perk, when you sign up, you’ll even get a $10 credit towards your next utility bill!
Who Can Join Arcadia?
Anyone in the United States who pays a utility bill is eligible to join Arcadia! Even if you rent your home, you can join Arcadia!
That said, certain programs may not be available in your area or with your utility provider.
Does Arcadia Manage My Bill?
When you sign up with Arcadia, typically, you’ll allow Arcadia to manage your bill. Your utility bill will get sent to Arcadia, they’ll add the cost of membership, and then you’ll pay your bill directly to Arcadia. To be clear, though, Arcadia is just a middleman. They are not taking over your utility services.
One perk to letting Arcadia manage the billing is that paying with a credit card is easy. Many utility providers require you to pay your bill using a checking account. But, with Arcadia, you can pay with a credit card and earn credit card points, all with no added effort (or transaction costs).
Is Arcadia Legitimate?
Arcadia is legitimate. They have been around for many years and have proven to be an easy, reliable way to power your home with renewable energy.
One fear folks often have is that Arcadia is replacing their utility provider. This is not the case. Your utility provider still runs your electricity, and they’re still the one you call if you have an outage. All Arcadia does is integrate with your current utility provider to track your energy usage to buy the equivalent in renewable energy certificates. Plus, if you don’t like Arcadia, you can cancel at any time.
I have been using Arcadia for years and have had a very positive experience.
Is Arcadia Safe?
Yes! Arcadia uses bank-level security with PCI-DSS compliance for payments, which is the industry’s highest level of protection.
Is Arcadia Certified?
Arcadia takes its selection of renewable energy certificates very seriously and has stringent criteria in place.
Each year, Arcadia’s claims and REC criteria are analyzed, audited, and verified by Deloitte.
Additionally, Arcadia is accredited by the Better Business Bureau, is part of the Department of Energy’s National Community Solar Partnership, is a Green America certified Gold member, and is a member of both AWEA and SEIA.
Arcadia Pros & Cons
Arcadia is a fantastic way to use more renewable energy and help drive the clean energy transition. However, it is by no means a perfect solution. Let’s recap some of the key pros and cons.
- Incentivizes the creation of more renewable energy
- May help save you money with Smart Rate, Community Solar, and more
- Available nationwide
- An easy way to make a difference
- If you do not live in a deregulated energy market, using Arcadia may cost you more ($5/month)
- Some programs are not available in all areas (such as Smart Rate, local Community Solar, etc.)
- Renewable energy certificates are confusing (though they are currently the only way to acquire green energy)
Arcadia Review: Is It Right For You?
Wrapping up this Arcadia review, I want to help you decide if Arcadia is right for you.
If you’re looking for a way to cut your carbon footprint, Arcadia is a great way to do so.
While the service can save you money, it may cost you a few dollars more a month. That said, it’s a small price to pay for making a positive impact.
I have been using Arcadia for years, and I have every intention to continue to do so, as it is one way to reduce my footprint.
So, what are you waiting for? Sign up for Arcadia today and receive a $10 credit for getting started!