Stream Energy was founded in Dallas, Texas, as a direct selling energy company and has since expanded to be far more reaching. Now catering to customers in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Illinois, Delaware, Ohio, the District of Columbia, and Texas, it has left a footprint in the marketplace while branching out to offer other services. Even though the company has expanded to include many different services, energy remains the center of its business.
Stream takes pride in using electric, gas, and clean energy and providing these to homes across the United States. As a retail electricity company, it’s leaving its mark on different ways to branch out its business. Its green energy initiative, in particular, has become incredibly important to its business staple, allowing the company to break new barriers and give its customers the option to choose clean energy.
Stream Energy: First Green Steps
In 2012, Stream became certified with Green-e Energy, joining other businesses in the push for clean energy across the country and the world. Alex Pennock, the manager of Green-e Energy, said that “by increasing voluntary demand for green power, Stream Energy is helping move us closer to a cleaner, greener future.” Along with the initiative to use more clean energy, Stream also announced at the time that it would be offsetting its own electricity usage through renewable energy certificates. The company uses about 7.3 million kilowatts of electricity per year. Stream Energy is dedicated not just to providing clean energy to homes nationwide but also to using it itself as a starting point for its eco-friendly practices.
The switch began as part of Stream’s Clean Nation initiative, pushing for the sale of Renewable Energy Certificates. “As a member of Clean Nation,” said founder Rob Snyder, “you will still receive an energy bill from your current supplier – but now you are offsetting your non-green energy usage with a clean product that is 100 percent renewable and 100 percent domestic.” The announcement that Stream would be moving to more renewable means in 2012 was a big moment that changed the retail energy marketplace in the United States. Snyder went on to say that “customers throughout the United States will be able to join us in promoting the clean energy movement and great energy independence for America.”
Understanding Renewable Energy
Renewable energy gets its name from using renewable resources. Eco-friendly energy, clean energy, etc. all refer to the same renewable energy concept. Not only are these types of energy cheaper to produce but they’re also much easier on the environment and the world’s natural resources. Power sources such as oil, coal, and nuclear power drain the Earth’s resources and cause harmful effects to its landscape and people. Clean energy can be used anywhere on the planet, thanks to a wide range of variations, and produces no pollution upon use. Even if these comparisons were negligible, the cost of using renewable energy is going down while fossil fuel prices continue to rise.
There are many different forms of renewable energy. Two of the most common are solar – energy derived from the sun’s light and heat – and wind – energy obtained from the wind using turbines. Water also produces several different kinds of energy. For example, rushing rivers and currents can generate hydroelectric energy. Biomass, bioethanol, and biodiesel energy all rely on organic matter like fermentation or vegetable oils. Lastly, geothermal energy extracts heat from deep underground to provide even more power. No matter where the energy need is on the planet, there is always a way to produce green energy. Stream innovates wind, solar, biomass, and hydro energy to reach as many places as possible.
Why Renewable Energy Is So Important
With climate change becoming more pertinent in the public eye, society has started to look for ways to make renewable energy more affordable. Governments have even begun offering tax incentives for families who use renewable energy. In the United States, roughly 29 percent of pollutant emissions come from the electricity sector. Renewable resources produce very little to absolutely no pollution, making this type of energy the overall greener choice.
But renewable energy doesn’t have to make a global impact to be remarkable. On a local level, clean energy helps the surrounding environment by not releasing any pollution into the air and water. This allows not only for the immediate surrounding nature to grow and flourish but also for people in the area to lead healthier lives. As of now, pollution is a major public health concern. A study conducted at Harvard University estimated that the public health effect of coal costs the country an average of $74.6 billion a year.
As mentioned, it’s called renewable energy because it is a renewable resource, meaning it can be harvested again and again – usually indefinitely. This means no drain on current resources, no harm to the environment like drilling or strip mining, and no lack of energy. As the world moves more towards a full technological era, our entire lives run on energy. Unfortunately, the electrical grid hasn’t seen an update since the 1950s, so we’re long overdue for another technological revolution. Stream is not allowing this massive gap in technology to ruin people’s chances of creating cleaner living and actively helps provide renewable energy to its consumers.
So while people are able to constantly produce energy that will never run out, they’re also saving money. With public health improving, people don’t have to spend so much on medical bills and can lead happier lives. Plus, because renewable energy efforts can produce so much, it often results in excess, so energy goes back to the grid. This makes electric companies pay clean energy users for its excess. Lastly, clean energy helps give money back to communities by creating more jobs. Stream Energy even has Independent Associates who work to sell clean energy to its customer base.
Why Fossil Fuels Are Outdated
The decline of fossil fuels has a lot to do with ongoing environmental concerns. While oil has faced more than its fair share of controversy in the past, especially regarding accidents like oil spills, coal has become a massive concern worldwide. Power generation has become the primary source of global warming, with coal plants consisting of about 80 percent of total power plant carbon emissions. The emissions also include carcinogens, neurotoxins, mercury, and lead. In 2002, the EPA instituted regulations against the industry and retired 50 gigawatts of coal power and plans to have another 14 GW retire by 2028.
With all of the health and environmental concerns, one must consider how much pollution renewable resources put into the atmosphere compared to coal. According to Stream Energy, coal produces anywhere from 1.4 to 3.6 pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent for each kilowatt per hour, or simply per CO2E/kWh. In comparison, wind produces 0.02 to 0.04 pounds per CO2E/kWh, and solar produces 0.07 to 0.2 pounds per CO2E/kWh. Simply put, coal is definitely leaving a massive carbon footprint on the planet that will be difficult to erase. Meanwhile, the United States Department of Energy concluded that renewable energy has already lowered pollutants in the electrical industry by about 81 percent. If everything switched over to clean energy, society could cut out pollution almost entirely and begin work on fixing the damage created from over a century of using coal.
The United States is not the only country transitioning away from coal. European countries like Finland, France, and the United Kingdom have made pledges to phase out coal from their energy use. In 2017, the European Union reported that nuclear and renewable energy were their main sources of power with coal third on the list, falling to 22 percent. In the U.K., coal power has decreased to just nine percent in 2016.
Despite all of the hardships facing this industry, coal still finds a place as the main energy source in developing countries and is a primary part of creating steel. With these markets still openly looking for coal, there will always be money in exporting, no matter where the coal is initially produced. Thankfully, some coal companies are looking into capturing and harnessing the harmful emissions in some way, but the technology is so costly that most companies haven’t latched on yet. So coal continues to be produced and will most likely stay the course for years to come, but the overall emissions and use of coal have dropped greatly within the last decade.
Stream Energy: Energy Packages
Stream’s payment plans and rates change due to location and usage, but the current monthly fixed-rate plans don’t change their offers too much. In the Northeast, excluding New York, Stream offers 12-month and 24-month fixed energy plans. In Georgia, there are offers for 12- and 24-month fixed natural gas plans. In Texas, Stream offers a Simple and Secure 30-month fixed energy plan with no usage fees or Transmission Distribution Utility charges.
The price of energy bills will fluctuate from building to building. The payment is largely based on how many kilowatt hours or kWh a customer uses. For instance, using 500 kWh results in about 15 cents per kWh, 1,000 kWh results in about 14 cents per kWh, and 2,000 kWh results in about 13 cents per kWh. There is also a base charge of $9.95 a month, including energy and Oncor Delivery charges. However, there is a discount for using paperless billing in the form of 0.2 cents per kWh taken off the final bill. With a payment plan, prices will not fluctuate, except for how much kWh is used in the building.
Stream Green: Becoming Eco-Friendly
Stream Energy allows its customers to choose clean energy by upgrading any available payment plan to eco+. The eco+ upgrade offsets carbon emissions by adding an extra 1,000 kWh of renewable energy to the grid. The way your home uses electricity and power won’t change, but the overall effect will make a big difference. Instead of choosing eco+ as an individual plan, it can be applied to any of Stream’s current plans for an extra monthly fee. Customers can also cancel eco+ at any time, free of charge.
There are other ways that Stream Energy recommends transitioning to a more eco-friendly lifestyle. A smart thermostat like the Lyric thermostat can save overall heating and cooling costs by 10 percent. There’s also such a thing as phantom drain, which occurs when devices are plugged in without being used, so unplugging these can save energy as well. Switching to LED lightbulbs can cause you to use 75 percent less energy, and they last 25 times longer. Even taking shorter showers, which use about two gallons of water per minute, and cooking with crock pots or pressure cookers instead of ovens can further save energy. There are a lot of lifestyle changes that can be made in the effort to be an environmentally clean person and reduce one’s carbon footprint. While this may seem like a small and unremarkable feat, it can be pretty huge if everyone moves toward a greener lifestyle.
In a survey by the United States Environmental Protection Agency in 2018, residential and commercial buildings use 32 percent of all energy, which is more than any of the other sectors, including industrial. The difference starts on an individual basis to work towards cleaner living. Stream Energy is already pushing towards these sustainable and renewable energy resources, paving the way for other companies to follow its lead.
A Cleaner Outlook
Accessing more sources for renewable energy allows people to gain independence from fossil fuels. When companies and governments get behind the idea of a cleaner environment for all, the matter only lies with individuals who are left to decide what they want from their energy plans. As time goes on and costs fluctuate, renewable energy won’t cost any more than the fossil fuels we currently have, so why not make the switch sooner rather than later? The tax benefits may not last that long, but the impact on the environment will.
Stream’s Clean Nation initiative is just the beginning of the effort to switch the world from fossil fuels to renewable energy. At the very least, offering the choice for cleaner energy to customers across the United States is a step in the right direction. For those looking for cleaner energy, even in middle- to lower-income families, there are still ways to make it happen. As time goes on, clean energy will only become more affordable and open its arms to a lot more of the population. On an individual level, almost everyone wants to see renewable energy become readily available, but the switch is facing its fair share of tribulations. Regardless, the change starts today, and Stream Energy is well aware of the importance of this undertaking, already providing clean energy to homes across the U.S. to inspire other companies to do the same around the globe.