Green Power Leaders Shine on Campus and among Utilities

May 18, 2011

Photo of large wind turbines in a field.

Wind energy represents more than three-fourths of electricity generated for green power programs nationwide.
Credit: Todd Spink

DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) on May 9 released its annual assessment of leading utility green power programs. Under these voluntary programs, offered by more than 850 U.S. utilities, consumers can choose to help support additional electricity production from renewable resources. Green power sales from utility programs exceeded 6 million megawatt-hours (MWh) in 2010. Energy from wind, landfill gas, biomass, small hydro, and solar is included in this year's sources. Wind energy now represents more than three-fourths of electricity generated for green energy programs nationwide.

Using information provided by utilities, NREL developed rankings of utility green power programs for 2010 in a variety of categories. The rankings by renewable energy sales in kilowatt-hours (kWh/year) repeated last year's top five: Austin Energy in Austin, Texas—which sold the largest amount of renewable energy in the nation—followed by 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). Also repeating from last year, the City of Palo Alto Utilities (California) recorded the largest percentage of customers participating, with more than 20% of its consumers enrolled in its green power program, which began in 2003. NREL has tracked green power programs since 2000. See the NREL press release, the DOE Green Power Network website, and the Austin Energy press release.

The Big Ten Conference surpassed the Ivy League as the top athletic conference in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) annual College and University Green Power Challenge, the agency reported on April 18. The University of Pennsylvania continued to be the top individual school in the challenge, beating out 68 other universities by purchasing more than 200 million kWh of green power, or 47% of its power purchases. Overall, competing institutions used more than 1.5 billion kWh of green power, according to EPA tallies. The Big Ten used more than 256 million kWh of green power annually, which is equivalent to the electricity used by more than 21,000 average American homes for one year. Pennsylvania State University led the conference. The Ivy League and the University Athletic Association took the No. 2 and No. 3 spots, respectively. See the EPA press release.