The Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) released its assessment of leading utility green power programs. Under these voluntary programs, residential and commercial consumers can choose to help support additional electricity production from renewable resources — such as wind and solar energy.
"Participating in utility green power programs allows consumers to support renewable energy above and beyond what utilities are procuring to comply with state renewable portfolio standards," NREL Analyst Jenny Heeter said. "These utilities are offering first-rate programs that give their customers an opportunity to support renewable energy deployment."
Using information provided by utilities, NREL has developed "Top 10" rankings of utility green power programs for 2012 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 (megawatt hours /year), Portland General Electric (Oregon) overtook Austin Energy in Austin, Texas, in 2012, selling the largest amount of renewable energy in the nation through its voluntary green power program.
Dominion Virginia Power and Oklahoma Gas & Electric (OG&E) are new to the top renewable energy sales list. Ranked by the percentage of customer participation, the top utilities are City of Palo Alto Utilities (California), followed by Portland General Electric, Madison Gas and Electric Company (Wisconsin), Sacramento Municipal Utility District, the City of Naperville (Illinois) and Pacific Power (Oregon). In addition, six utilities provided green power supply that included at least 2 percent solar.
Renewable power sales of the top 10 utility programs by sales exceeded 4.2 million MWh in 2012, up from 3.9 million MWh in 2010. Wind energy represents about 85 percent of electricity generated for green energy programs nationwide.
Utility green pricing programs are one segment of a larger green power marketing industry that counts more than 1.8 million customers, including Fortune 500 companies, government agencies and colleges and universities among its customers, and helps support more than 11,200 MW of renewable electricity generation capacity.
NREL is the DOE's primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL is operated for DOE by the Alliance for Sustainable Energy LLC.
Green Pricing Program Renewable Energy Sales (MWh/year as of December 2012)
1. Portland General Electric 834,125
2. Austin Energy, 744,443
3. PacifiCorp, 604,007
4. Sacramento Municipal Utility District, 416,477
5. Xcel Energy, 390,056
6. Puget Sound Energy, 365,796
7. Connecticut Light and Power Co. / United Illuminating Co., 254,838
8. Dominion Virginia Power, 250,364
9. Oklahoma Gas & Electric Co., 210,187
10. CPS Energy, 179,786
Total Number of Customer Participants (Participants as of December 2012)
1. Portland General Electric, 87,987
2. PacifiCorp - Blue Sky Usage, Block, and Habitat, 87,919
3. Xcel Energy, 61,315
4. Sacramento Municipal Utility District, 55,207
5. Puget Sound Energy, 34,962
6. Connecticut Light and Power Co. / United Illuminating. 27,664
7. Iberdrola: NYSEG and RG&E, 21,201
8. We Energies, 20,066
9. National Grid, 18,302
10. Dominion Virginia Power, 15,179
Customer Participation Rate (as of December 2012)
1. City of Palo Alto (California), 18.2 percent
2. Portland General Electric, 12.4 percent
3. Madison Gas & Electric Co., 9.4 percent
4. Sacramento Municipal Utility District, 9.2 percent
5. City of Naperville (Illinois), 7.6 percent
6. Pacific Power (Oregon), 7.6 percent
7. Silicon Valley Power, 6.9 percent
8. River Falls Municipal Utilities, 6.1 percent
9. Stoughton Utilities, 5.1 percent
10. Cuba City Light & Water, 5 percent
Green Power Sales as a Percentage of Total Retail Electricity Sales (in MWh) (Utility percent of load as of December 2012)
1. Waterloo Utilities, 23.9 percent
2. Edmond Electric, 10.7 percent
3. River Falls Municipal Utilities, 7.3 percent
4. Austin Energy, 6 percent
5. Portland General Electric, 4.4 percent
6. Madison Gas & Electric Co., 4.1 percent
7. PacifiCorp - Blue Sky Usage and Habitat, 4.1 percent
8. Sacramento Municipal Utility District, 3.9 percent
9. Stoughton Utilities, 2.9 percent
10. Silicon Valley Power, 2.8 percent
Net Price Premium Charged for New, Residential Customer-Driven Renewable Power (Utility net premium as of December 2012)
1. City of Ponca (Oklahoma), -0.87¢/kWh
2. Public Service Co. of New Mexico, 0.04¢/kWh
3. Edmond Electric, 0.14¢/kWh
4. Indianapolis Power & Light Co., 0.15¢/kWh
5. Avista Corp. (Washington and Idaho), 0.33¢/kWh
6. Arizona Public Service, 0.40¢/kWh
7. Xcel Energy (Minnesota only), 0.66¢/kWh
8. Oklahoma Gas & Electric Co., 0.86¢/kWh
9. Connecticut Light and Power Co. / United Illuminating, 0.99¢/kWh
10. CPS Energy, 1.00¢/kWh
10. WPPI Energy, 1.00¢/kWh
Note: The average net premium for City of Ponca over 2012 was -0.08¢/kWh.
Utilities Using at Least 2 percent Solar to Supply their Green Pricing Programs (Percent solar energy as of December 2012)
1. Sacramento Municipal Utility District, 14.5 percent
2. Tennessee Valley Authority, 5.9 percent
3. Xcel Energy (Colorado only), 3. percent
4. City of Palo Alto (California), 2.5 percent
5. Alameda Municipal Power, 2 percent
5. PacifiCorp - Blue Sky Habitat & Usage, 2 percent
Note: While additional individual utility products may include at least 2 percent solar, this list represents the overall mix provided by the utility to meet all of its green pricing needs.
This article was originally published on Electric Light & Power/POWERGRID International. It was republished with permission.