NREL Highlights Leading Utility Green Power Programs

Pricing programs give consumers clean power choices

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

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. More than 800 utilities across the United States 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, 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, the green power program of Austin (Texas) Energy is first in the nation, followed by Portland General Electric, PacifiCorp, Florida Power & Light, and Xcel Energy.

Ranked by customer participation rates, the top utilities are City of Palo Alto (Calif.) Utilities, Lenox (Iowa) Municipal Utilities, Silicon Valley Power (Calif.), Portland General Electric, and Sacramento Municipal Utility District. (For additional rankings, see the tables on the Greenpower Network Web site).

"Utility green power programs continue to expand across the country," said Lori Bird, senior energy analyst at NREL. "These utilities are the national leaders."

Customer choice programs are proving to be a powerful stimulus for growth in renewable energy supply. In 2007, total utility green power sales exceeded 4.5 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh), about a 20% increase over 2006. Approximately 600,000 customers are participating in utility programs nationwide.

Utility green pricing programs are one segment of a larger green power marketing industry that counts Fortune 500 companies, government agencies and colleges and universities among its customers, and helps support more than 3,000 MW of new renewable electricity generation capacity.

NREL analysts attribute the success of many programs to persistence in marketing and creative marketing strategies, including in some cases, utility partnerships with independent green power marketers. In addition, the rate premium that customers pay for green power continues to drop.

NREL 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.

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