Low Premiums Increase Sales for Utility Green Power Leaders
March 22, 2006
The nation's top utility green power programs experienced significant growth in 2005, thanks in part to record-low premiums. In the annual ranking of top utility green power programs, released on March 15th by DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Austin Energy still holds the lead for renewable energy sales. The utility experienced 30 percent growth in green power sales in 2005, selling more than 435 million kilowatt-hours of renewable power at a premium of 0.7 cents per kilowatt-hour. Total utility green power sales reached 2.7 billion kilowatt-hours in 2005, a 36 percent increase over 2004. An estimated 430,000 customers are participating in utility green power programs nationwide, up 20 percent from 2004.
Austin Energy is among a number of utilities that offer green power at a fixed price, exempt from utility fuel charges, so when rising natural gas prices boosted electricity rates last year, the premium paid by their customers fell. For the first time, the three lowest price premiums for green power were actually negative: customers for Xcel Energy in Colorado and Edmond Electric and OG&E Electric Services in Oklahoma saved money by buying green power. Xcel Energy customers had the best deal, saving 0.67 cents per kilowatt-hour by buying green power. See the NREL press release and the current and previous lists of leading utility green power programs.
The growth of green power may accelerate with the use of a new Green-e National Standard for certifying green power products. Established in the late 1990s, the Green-e certification originally used different standards for different regions and states. The Center for Resource Solutions (CRS), which runs the Green-e Program, is now moving to a national standard to provide consistent certification of green power products throughout the United States. The new standard will go into effect on January 1st, 2007, and was first issued in February, but was revised in mid-March. See the CRS press release and the latest version of the Green-e National Standard (PDF 59 KB). Download Adobe Reader.