The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has 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 solar and wind.
According to the NREL analysis, more than 850 utilities across the U.S. now offer green power programs. Utility green power sales in 2009 exceeded 6 billion kWh, and they represent more than 5% of total electricity sales for some of the most popular programs.
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 (Oregon), PacifiCorp (Oregon and five other states), the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (California), and Xcel Energy (Colorado, Minnesota, Wisconsin and New Mexico).
Ranked by the percentage of customer participation, the top utilities are City of Palo Alto Utilities (California), Portland General Electric (Oregon), Madison Gas and Electric Co. (Wisconsin), the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (California), and the City of Naperville (Illinois).
NREL analysts attribute the success of many programs to continued efforts by utilities and their partners to raise awareness of the availability of green power options. In addition, the rate premium that customers pay for green power continues to drop. The average net price premium for utility green power products has decreased from $0.0348/kWh in 2000 to $0.0175/kWh in 2009.
Additional rankings are available at www.nrel.gov.