Annual assessment shows more consumers making clean power choices

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GOLDEN, Colo. — The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory 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 National Renewable Energy Laboratory analysis, more than 850 utilities across the U.S. now offer green power programs.

Green power sales

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.

Using information provided by utilities, National Renewable Energy Laboratory 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.

First in the nation

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, Oregon; PacifiCorp, Oregon and five other states; Xcel Energy, Minnesota and seven other states and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, California.

Top utilities

Ranked by the percentage of customer participation, the top utilities are City of Palo Alto Utilities, California; Lenox Municipal Utilities, Iowa; Portland General Electric, Madison Gas and Electric Company, Wisconsin and Silicon Valley Power, California.

Customer choice programs are proving to be a powerful stimulus for growth in renewable energy supply.

In 2008, total utility green power sales exceeded 5 billion kilowatt-hours, about a 20 percent 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.

Persistent marketing

National Renewable Energy Laboratory 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 customers pay for green power continues to drop.

The Green Power study was performed by National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s Strategic Energy Analysis and Applications Center, which integrates technical and economic analyses and leads the laboratory’s efforts in applying clean energy technologies to both national and international markets.

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