Biomass
refers to organic matter that is derived from living or recently living organisms. When it comes to energy, biomass refers to energy sourced from organic matter: wood and the wood waste from various industries, agricultural products and byproducts, and the biodegradable matter in landfills. Two common
methods of generating energy from biomass are:

1. Burning organic matter to produce electricity, or
2. Waste-to-energy, which collects gases from landfills and burns them.

Carbon offsets
are certificates that compensate for greenhouse gas emissions. Each carbon offset certificate has a unique serial number that stands as proof that one metric ton of CO2 or its equivalent in greenhouse gases has been reduced, avoided or sequestered.

For a carbon offset to be credible in the international market, the emissions avoided must be permanent, additional, verified, enforceable and real. Viridian Energy only purchases carbon offsets from well-credentialed suppliers, so we’re confident our company and customers are having a positive, quantifiable impact on the planet.

Carbon offsets are created through energy efficiency systems, methane capture, wind farms, waste to energy systems and reforestation and conservation projects. Carbon offsets may also be used to encourage behavior change in undeveloped regions, such as through funding clean cook stoves. 

Deregulation
opens a marketplace that was previously operated as a monopoly. But “deregulation” doesn’t mean “no rules.” Energy providers such as Viridian Energy are carefully monitored and are subject to strict laws and oversight.

Green energy
also known as low-carbon energy, comes from renewable sources such as wind, hydro, solar and biomass. All green energy is clean energy, but the two are not synonymous. Because all electrons in the grid are identical regardless of source, consumers can only say they’re using green energy if they or their energy supplier purchased Renewable Energy Certificates to support their usage. 

Greenhouse gases
absorb the sun’s reflected energy and redirect it back to Earth as heat. This heat warms the land and our oceans, creating global climate change. The most notable of these gases are carbon dioxide, methane, water vapor and nitrous oxide.

Although some greenhouse gases are emitted naturally—from the decay of plant matter, for example—the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions is human activity, such as transportation or energy use.

Because methane is the greenhouse gas most associated with the production and combustion of natural gas, Viridian Energy mitigates our Simply Right™ natural gas customers’ usage with carbon offsets
that specifically target methane production.

Hydropower
the force of moving water powered the water wheels of the ancient Greeks, fueled the mills of America’s Industrial Revolution, and accounts for 20% of the renewable electricity generated in the world today. 

Installed capacity
is another way of saying how much power a solar power system is capable of producing under optimal conditions. Energy suppliers make that distinction because no system produces up to full capacity all day, every day. 

Net metering
could well be one of the coolest things about having
rooftop solar. When the panels produce more power than a home or business immediately needs, the excess energy flows into the grid and the energy meter spins backward. The utility credits customers for every kW of that flowed-in power. Even better, it credits them at the utility rate, not their low, locked-in solar rates.

REC
stands for Renewable Energy Certificate. A REC represents 1 MW (or 1,000 KW) of electricity generated by a renewable source such as wind, solar, hydro or biomass.

RECs are financial instruments, bought and sold on the open market. When an energy provider such as Viridian Energy purchases RECs to support its customers’ electricity load, those customers are using green energy.

Note that we said “support its customers’ electricity load.” The electricity flowing into homes and businesses comes from the local grid, which receives energy from a variety of power generators. Viridian Energy can’t directly change where that energy comes from. But by buying RECs to back more than 50% of our customers’ electricity usage, we help ensure the health and growth of the green energy industry, which leads to more jobs in the green energy sector, more research and development, and more renewable energy flowing into the grid.

Every REC has a unique serial number that indicates when and where it was generated and retired. You may find information on all the RECs Viridian Energy purchased in reporting year 2016 in the section immediately preceding this Glossary.

Responsible energy
is a broad category, running the gamut from clean energy generated by wind, hydro, solar and biomass to natural gas usage that’s backed by carbon offsets. When we say energy is “responsible,” we mean that environmental concerns are being addressed to a reasonable and verifiable extent.

RPS
or Renewable Portfolio Standard, is a state-by-state initiative that supports the development of different forms of renewable energy. Currently, 29 states plus the District of Columbia have an RPS.

SREC
(pronounced “ S reck”) stands for Solar Renewable Energy Certificate. In RPS states, homeowners and commercial entities who own their solar panels can earn one SREC for every MW generated by their solar PV system. Like RECs, SRECs are a way of incentivizing solar energy generators and supporting the growth of solar. Check out the In Your Backyard section on page 94 to see how many SRECs Viridian Energy purchases from individuals just like you.

Sustainability
is an acknowledgment that there are limits to what our environment can provide. It means using our natural resources in a disciplined, mindful and creative way, in an effort to make them last as long as possible. Sustainability is at the heart of everything Viridian does, and it is what this report is all about.

For a complete list of references
used throughout the report, contact sustainability@viridian.com.