Does Your Electricity Come From Unicorn Power?


OK, so my local power company doesn’t actually say that my electricity is coming from unicorns … but they’re not saying it doesn’t, either!  The above graph was provided by Illinois’ Champion Energy Services, which is required by Illinois law to disclose the source of the electricity they provide to consumers, be it nuclear, gas, coal, or “other” (as shown in the scanned document, below).

As you can see for yourself, it’s not much help.

Click to Enlarge

Right about now, you might be asking yourself why this is important.  Simply, some sources of electricity are cleaner than others, and the general idea is that “we” (as consumers) should be allowed to make our energy choices based on where said energy is coming from.  When you hear someone say “Electric cars are not so clean“, this – the source of electricity being used to power EVs – is the issue they’re pointing to to make their ridiculous claims.

Still, when faced with that big, purple circle of “unkown” up there, I’m certainly forced to stop and think about where my energy might actually be coming from.  As such, I’ve come up with a few options, in (what I think might be) descending order of probability:

  1. Coal.
  2. Canada.
  3. The future.
  4. The emperor.
  5. Unicorn power.

I’ll give 10 bonus points to anyone who can tell us where the power going to Palatine, IL is actually coming from in today’s comments (20, if it’s actually unicorns).

Source:  today’s mail.

Disclaimer:  Champion has provided excellent service throughout the year, despite 6′ snow drifts, etc., and they have always been professional and courteous.  This FAIL-worthy graph is definitely not the norm, and is more likely a symptom of a well-intentioned but ultimately useless set of disclosure laws.

About the Author

I’ve been in the auto industry 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the IM network. You can also find me on Twitter, at my Volvo fansite, or chasing my kids around Oak Park, IL.

  • Pretty sure it comes from Brown’s Chicken oil vats.

  • Wow. That is just ridiculous. You are right that is must be 100% coal but what I find interesting is that coal has such a strong stigma attached to it already! That’s good.

    Keep in mind though, that an electric car like the Leaf, even when using coal for electricity, releases far less emissions than the average car being driven today. It won’t emit less than a Prius, but it will emit less than about 250 million other cars in America. And 60% of our electricity does not come from coal. The grid will get cleaner, especially now that consumers, if given a choice, will opt for something other than coal.

  • I am interested in the bonus points, but I won’t qualify for 20 since the power does not come from unicorns.

    Champion Energy does not typically buy power directly from power plants. Instead, like most all providers, we buy power in a wholesale trading environment from other companies. Since we buy power through the wholesale markets, the only category in the required disclosure form that accurately represents the source of our power is “Unknown respources purchased from other companies”.

    Our power sources match the sources of the total IL grid. You can find data about the percentage of power based on fuel source on the PJM website (

    • Good to hear from you guys – and thanks for the excellent service throughout the snowpocalypse (we didn’t have a single second of down-time, nothing even flickered!).

      I’m not sure how we can get you the 10 bonus points – but send over some information on what Champion is doing to ensure the energy they buy and sell is as clean as possible, and everyone here at Gas 2.0 will be shouting your praises.

      • One thing we are doing is offering residential service in the ComED service area that is 100% wind. As Derek noted in a different post, we cannot ensure that the wind-generated power makes it from the wind farm to your meter. Even though it may not flow through your meter, renewable energy is put on the grid to offset all of the power that you pull from the grid.

        Not sure if you will let us post our website here. If you will let me, you can read more about our residential offerings including our green plan online.

  • Although the attached graph doesn’t offer much help it’s also a legal disclaimer. There’s no way to steer an electron generated by a power source (green or non-green)to a particular meter. Electricity is made up of all of the components at various percentages throughout the year. There’s no definitive answer for what blend’s hitting your meter therefore it’s impossible for anyone to provide an exact number (the sun doesn’t always shine, the wind doesn’t always blow, nuke, coal, and other power plants are brought on & off line every day). Everyone’s electricity is made up of all of the above components in some form or another which also includes a small percentage of Green. There may also be some Unicorn power blended in if you choose to belive that.

  • I want my points. Seems animals generate mystical powers.

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