In many areas, utilities offer some form of green power program that allows customers to pay a small premium in order to support renewable energy sources such as wind and solar through voluntary enlistment in the program. Naturally, we here at EarthTechling like to keep up to date on how those programs are doing and what sort of participation they are seeing from the public. Thanks to the most recent release of an annual report issued by the Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), we now know how these green power programs fared in 2010 and, interestingly, many of this year’s top performers are repeats from last year’s report.
According to a statement released by NREL, sales through these utility-backed green power programs exceeded 6 million megawatt-hours in 2010 and wind energy now represents more than three-fourths of electricity generated for green energy programs nationwide.
NREL used information provided by utilities to develop a “Top 10” list of utility green power programs for 2010 in several categories including 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. According to NREL, more than 850 utilities across the United States currently offer green power programs.
Austin Energy in Austin, Texas reportedly sold the largest amount of renewable energy in the nation in terms of kilowatt hours per year. The other four utilities in the top five (in order) are Portland General Electric (Oregon), PacifiCorp (Oregon and five other states), the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (California), and Xcel Energy (Colorado, Minnesota, Wisconsin and New Mexico).
Rankings in terms of the percentage of customer participation brought some other utilities into the mix. The City of Palo Alto Utilities (California) came out as the leader with more than 20 percent of its customers participating in its green power program. Coming in under Palo Alto was Portland General Electric, Farmers Electric Cooperative of Kalona (Iowa), Madison Gas and Electric Company (Wisconsin), and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District.
More information, including several tables that show some of the other metrics provided by NREL’s analysis,is available here.