Pricing programs give consumers clean power choices
April 3, 2007 - 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 600 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 and the lowest price premium charged for a green pricing service 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, Florida Power & Light, PacifiCorp and Xcel Energy. (To view charts of utility rankings, visit http://www.eere.energy.gov/greenpower/resources/tables/topten.shtml)
Ranked by customer participation rates, the top utilities are City of Palo Alto (Calif.) Utilities, Lenox (Iowa) Municipal Utilities, Montezuma (Iowa) Municipal Light & Power, Portland General Electric, and Sacramento Municipal Utility District. (See attached tables for additional rankings).
"Utility green power sales continue to show strong growth 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 2006, total utility green power sales exceeded 3.5 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh), about a 30 percent increase over 2005. More than 500,000 customers are participating in utility programs nationwide, up more than 10 percent from 2005.
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 2,500 MW of 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. "Higher prices for conventional energy sources, as well as increasing environmental concerns, are focusing greater attention on renewable energy options," said Blair Swezey, NREL principal analyst.
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.