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Public power utilities score well on NREL lists of leading green power programs


From the June 10, 2013 issue of Public Power Daily

Originally published June 10, 2013

By Robert Varela
Editorial Director
Public power utilities again earned a high share of top rankings in the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s annual top 10 lists of leading utility green power programs. Public power utilities took the top spot in four of the six lists developed by NREL and accounted for a majority of the top 10 in two categories. 
Public power utilities accounted for seven of the top 10 green power programs when ranked by percentage of customers participating. Palo Alto, Calif., Utilities led the nation with an 18.2 percent customer participation rate. Also in the top 10 for customer participation rate are the Sacramento Municipal Utility District in California; Naperville, Ill., Public Utilities; Silicon Valley Power, serving Santa Clara, Calif.; River Falls, Wis., Municipal Utilities; Stoughton, Wis., Utilities; and Cuba City, Wis., Light & Water.

Public power utilities also made up seven of the top 10 for green power sales as a percentage of total retail electricity sales (in kilowatt-hours). Waterloo Utilities in Iowa led the nation, with 23.9 percent, followed by Edmond Electric in Oklahoma at 10.7 percent. The other public power utilities in the top 10 are River Falls, Wis., Municipal Utilities; Austin Energy in Texas; SMUD; Stoughton, Wis., Utilities; and Silicon Valley Power. 

Austin Energy ranked second in the nation in green pricing program sales, with sales of 744,443 megawatt-hours/year, while the Sacramento Municipal Utility District was fourth, with 416,477 MWh/year, and CPS Energy, serving the San Antonio area, was 10th, selling 179,786 MWh/year, NREL said.

Ponca City Energy in Oklahoma topped NREL’s top 10 list of utilities charging the lowest price premium for new, customer-driven renewable power; the utility does not charge a premium. Ponca City Energy as of December 2012 sold green power for 0.87 cents per kilowatt-hour less than its base rate. Edmond Electric was third, charging a premium of only 0.14 cents/kWh. Rounding out the top 10 were CPS Energy and WPPI Energy in Wisconsin (both at 1 cent per kWh).

By a wide margin, SMUD led the nation in the percentage of solar power used to supply its green pricing programs. SMUD’s percentage of 14.5 percent is more than double the next highest, the Tennessee Valley Authority, at 5.9 percent. Palo Alto and Alameda Municipal Power in California also were among the six utilities listed by NREL as using at least 2 percent solar to supply their green pricing programs.

Green 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, NREL said. Wind energy represents approximately 85 percent of electricity generated for green energy programs nationwide.

NREL used information provided by utilities to develop "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.

More information is available on NREL’s website.

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Senior Vice President, Publishing 
Jeanne Wickline LaBella
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JLaBella@publicpower.org

Editorial Director
Robert Varela
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RVarela@publicpower.org

Editor, Public Power Daily
Jeannine Anderson
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JAnderson@publicpower.org

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