Using information provided by utilities, NREL developed Top 10 rankings of utility green power programs for 2010 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.
According to NREL, more than 850 utilities across the United States offer green power programs. Ranked by renewable energy sales (kWh/year), Austin Energy in Austin, Texas sold the largest amount of renewable energy in the nation through its voluntary green power program. Rounding out the top five 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).
Ranked by the percentage of customer participation, the top utilities are City of Palo Alto Utilities (California), with more than 20 percent of its customers participating in its green power program, followed by Portland General Electric, Farmers Electric Cooperative of Kalona (Iowa), Madison Gas and Electric Company (Wisconsin), and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District.
Utility green pricing programs help support more than 9,000 megawatts of renewable electricity generation capacity. NREL has also found that more utilities are developing community solar programs, a program design that enables consumers to support local projects. Community solar programs allow customers to purchase a share of a solar system developed in their community and receive the benefits of the energy that is produced by their share.
NREL analyst Jenny Sumner adds: “Utilities and third-parties are increasingly developing community solar programs as one way to support local renewable energy development. Customers can invest in solar through community solar programs even if they are renters or own homes with shaded roofs.”