The US Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) released its annual assessment of leading utility green power programs. Under these voluntary programs, consumers can choose to help support additional electricity production from renewable resources such as wind and solar.
According to the NREL analysis, more than 850 utilities across the US now offer green power programs. Utility green power sales in 2009 exceeded 6 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh), and represent more than 5% of total electricity sales for some of the most popular programs. Wind energy represents approximately two-thirds of electricity generated for green energy programs nationwide.
Using information provided by utilities, NREL developed a Top 10 list of utility programs for 2009 in the following categories:
- total sales of renewable energy to program participants
- total number of customer participants
- percentage of customer participation
- green power sales as a percentage of total utility retail electricity sales
- lowest price premium charged for a green power program using new renewable resources
Ranked by renewable energy sales (kWh/year), Austin Energy in Austin, Texas sold the largest amount of renewable energy in the nation through its voluntary green power program. Rounding out the top five are Portland General Electric (OR), PacifiCorp (OR and five other states), the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (CA), and Xcel Energy (CO, MN, WI, and NM).
Ranked by the percentage of customer participation, the top utilities are City of Palo Alto Utilities (CA), Portland General Electric, Madison Gas and Electric Company (WI), the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, and the City of Naperville (IL).
NREL analysts attribute the success of many programs to continued efforts to raise awareness of the availability of green power options and the decrease in the rate premium that customers pay for green power. The average net price premium for utility green power products has decreased from 3.48¢/kWh in 2000 to 1.75¢/kWh in 2009.
See additional rankings and read the full press release here.