Golden, CO, April 15, 2009 — The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) released its annual assessment of leading utility green power programs. Under the 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 United States now offer green power programs. Green power sales in 2008 increased by about 20 percent over 2007, and they represent more than 5 percent of total electricity sales for some of the most popular programs. Wind is the primary source of electricity generated for green energy programs nationwide.
“Despite the economic downturn, utility green power sales continued to expand nationally last year,” said NREL senior energy analyst Lori Bird.
Using information provided by utilities, NREL developed “Top 10” rankings of utility programs for 2008 in the following categories: total sales of renewable energy to program participants, total number of customer participants, the percentage of customer participation, green power sales as a percentage of total utility retail electricity sales, and the lowest price premium charged for a green power program using new renewable resources.
Ranked by renewable energy sales (kWh/year), the green power program of Austin Energy (Texas) is first in the nation. Rounding out the top five are Portland General Electric (Ore.), PacifiCorp (Oregon and five other states), Xcel Energy (Minnesota and seven other states), and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (Calif.).
Ranked by the percentage of customer participation, the top utilities are City of Palo Alto Utilities (Calif.), Lenox Municipal Utilities (Iowa), Portland General Electric, Madison Gas and Electric Co. (Wis.), and Silicon Valley Power (Calif.).
Customer choice programs are proving to be a powerful stimulus for growth in renewable energy supply. “Participating in green power programs is one way that consumers can reduce their environmental footprint,” said NREL analyst Claire Kreycik, who co-authored the report. In 2008, total utility green power sales exceeded 5 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh), about a 20 percent increase over 2007. More than 600,000 customers are participating in utility programs nationwide.
NREL analysts attribute the success of many programs to persistent marketing and creative marketing strategies, including some utility partnerships with independent green power marketers. In addition, the rate premium that customers pay for green power continues to drop.
The Green Power study was performed by NREL’s Strategic Energy Analysis and Applications Center.
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