Under these voluntary programs, consumers can choose to help support additional electricity production from renewable resources such as solar and wind.

GOLDEN, COLO., APRIL 14, 2005 - The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) today released its annual ranking 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. Nearly 600 utilities in 34 states now offer these programs.

Using information provided by utilities, NREL develops "Top 10" rankings of utility programs in the following categories: total sales of renewable energy to program participants, total number of customer participants, customer participation rate, and the lowest price premium charged for a green pricing service using new renewable resources.

Ranked by sales of green power, the green power program of Austin (Texas) Energy is first in the nation, followed by Portland General Electric, PacifiCorp, Sacramento (Calif.) Municipal Utility District, and Xcel Energy.

Ranked by customer participation rates, the top utilities are Lenox (Iowa) Municipal Utilities, City of Palo Alto (Calif.) Utilities, Montezuma (Iowa) Municipal Light & Power, and (tie) Holy Cross Energy (Colo.), Moorhead (Minn.) Public Service, and Sacramento Municipal Utility District. (See attached tables for additional rankings).

"Customer participation in utility green power programs continues to grow across the country," said Lori Bird, senior energy analyst at NREL. "These utilities are the national leaders."

Customer choice programs continue to be a powerful stimulus for growth in renewable energy supply. In 2004, sales of renewable energy through utility green power programs continued to exhibit strong growth, reaching 1.9 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh). Utility green pricing programs are one segment of a larger green power marketing industry that counts more than one-half million customers nationwide and helps support more than 1,600 MW of renewable electricity generation capacity.

NREL also found that several large utilities have lowered the rate premium charged in green pricing programs. "Purchases of renewable energy through utility green power programs are becoming increasingly affordable for consumers" said Blair Swezey, NREL principal policy advisor. He cited the improving economics of tapping renewable energy sources compared to traditional fossil fuels as a primary factor.

NREL's Energy Analysis Office performs analyses of green power market trends and is funded by DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

NREL is the U.S. Department of Energy's primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL is operated for DOE by Midwest Research Institute and Battelle.

Complete rankings are available at the Green Power Network Web site:

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