The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) today released its annual assessment of leading utility green power programs.  Under these voluntary programs, consumers can choose to help support additional electricity production from renewable resources such as wind and solar.

According to the NREL analysis, more than 850 utilities across the United States now offer green power programs. Utility green power sales in 2009 exceeded 6 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh), and they represent more than 5 percent of total electricity sales for some of the most popular programs. Wind energy represents approximately two-thirds of electricity generated for green energy programs nationwide.

“Despite the economic downturn, consumers are continuing to support the development of renewable energy by voluntarily participating in utility green power programs,” said NREL senior energy analyst Lori Bird. “These utilities are the national leaders.”

Using information provided by utilities, NREL developed “Top 10” rankings of utility programs for 2009 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 (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 (Ore. and five other states), the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (Calif.), and Xcel Energy (Col., Minn., Wis. and New Mexico).

Ranked by the percentage of customer participation, the top utilities are City of Palo Alto Utilities (Calif.), Portland General Electric, Madison Gas and Electric Company (Wis.), the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, and the City of Naperville (Ill.). (See attached tables for additional rankings).  Read more about Green Power Rankings