NREL Assessment: More Consumers Choose Clean Power

 The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) on April 13 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 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 Lori Bird, NREL senior energy analyst. "These utilities are the national leaders."

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 Company (Wis.), and Silicon Valley Power (Calif.).

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.

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