The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) today 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.
NREL REPORT - CONSUMERS AND GREEN POWER
National Renewable Energy Laboratory
|The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) today 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 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. “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.). (See attached tables for additional rankings).
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,” 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% increase over 2007. More than 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 about 5,000 MW of new renewable electricity generation capacity.
Green Pricing Program Renewable Energy Sales (as of December 2008)
a An "average megawatt" (aMW) is a measure of continuous capacity equivalent (i.e., operating at a 100% capacity factor).
Total Number of Customer Participants (as of December 2008)
a Includes Northern States Power, Public Service Company of Colorado, and Southwestern Public Service.
Customer Participation Rate (as of December 2008)
a Marketed in partnership with 3Degrees Group, Inc.
Green Power Sales as a Percentage of Total Retail Electricity Sales (in kWh) (as of December 2008)
a Power supplied by Oklahoma Municipal Power Authority.
Price Premium Charged for New, Customer-Driven Renewable Powera (as of December 2008)
a Includes only programs that have installed or announced firm plans to install or purchase power from 100% new renewable resources.
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 (SEAAC), which integrates technical and economic analyses and leads NREL's efforts in applying clean energy technologies to both national and international markets.
NREL released its first annual Green Power study in 2000.
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 the Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC.
Visit NREL online at www.nrel.gov
The content & opinions in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of AltEnergyMag
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