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The U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has 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 U.S. now offer green power programs. Green power sales in 2008 increased by about 20% from 2007, and they represent more than 5% 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, 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, 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 (California).

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 Co. (Wisconsin), and Silicon Valley Power (California).

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, which integrates technical and economic analyses and leads NREL's efforts in applying clean energy technologies to both national and international markets.

For more information, visit nrel.gov.

SOURCE: National Renewable Energy Laboratory


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