By this time next year, people hooking up electricity to a new home or business will be able choose green electricity without struggling to find out how to do it.

Renewable power sources include hydro, wind, biomass, municipal waste, solar, geothermal and tidal. It has been difficult for consumers to compare prices and find trustworthy renewable energy suppliers, though several suppliers in the state offer electricity from renewable sources. All suppliers are listed on the Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) Web site.

The green premium option for electricity consumers will be available across the state by the end of 2011. Starting next year, the Maine PUC will vet renewable energy suppliers and assess the lowest bid before offering it to the public.

The renewable option will cost slightly more but it will be entirely voluntary. The standard offer, which is what consumers get if they sign up for electric power without specifying an alternative supplier, already includes 32 percent renewable energy by law. The optional green premium will include 100 percent renewable energy by law.

The Maine PUC does not yet know how much the green premium will cost consumers.

On October 15, the Maine PUC solicited bids from electric suppliers to provide the three big electric utilities in the state with renewable power. The Maine PUC will be reviewing those bids and accept suppliers this winter, at which time a price will be set.

For a list of all electricity suppliers in the state, see www.maine.gov/mpuc/electricity/list_of_suppliers.shtml.