Best Buy, the country's biggest seller of consumer electronics, now is pushing renewable energy to its customers.

In a partnership with Renewable Choice Energy of Boulder, Colo., the retailer started selling clean energy credits earlier this week through a $10 plastic card it's calling "Green Your Phone." The cards are expected to be available in all 1,000 stores today.

The payment is a sort of atonement for the electricity associated with using a cell phone. But you don't need to buy a phone (or anything else in the store for that matter) in order to buy a card.

In this case, the "Green Your Phone" cards are loaded with 500 kilowatts of certified renewable energy credits -- the amount of electricity it takes to manufacture and use two mobile phones for two years. When shoppers buy the card, it guarantees that 500 kilowatts of electricity get added to the nation's power grid through wind power or some other form of renewable energy.

Funds from the purchase of the cards support the Trimont Area Wind Farm in southern Minnesota as well as wind power projects in other states and some schools.

It's the first time a specific renewable energy credit has been tied to a specific commodity, such as a cell phone, though it's largely a symbolic pairing. It's a catchy way to make consumers aware of how much energy it takes to power their lives, and perhaps reach those folks who support clean energy but ignore those bill inserts that come from the utility company, said Kris Lotlikar of Renewable Choice Energy.

Consumer electronics are becoming an ever more voracious user of electricity, Lotlikar said. In 2000, electronics made up about 30 percent of a consumer's electricity use. By 2010, it'll eat up 40 percent.

Jackie Crosby • 612-673-7335