Pricing for Utility Green Power Continues to Fall

by | May 4, 2010

Edmond Electric, OG&E Company, Avista Utilities, Park Electric Cooperative and Arizona Public Service offer the lowest price premiums for renewable energy, according to the annual assessment of leading utility green power programs by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Price premiums range from -0.17 cents/kWh to 0.80 cents/kWh.

NREL analysts report that the rate premium that customers pay for green power continues to drop. The average net price premium for utility green power products has decreased from 3.48 cents/kWh in 2000 to 1.75 cents/kWh in 2009.

Even during the downturn, the assessment shows that consumers continued to support renewable energy by voluntarily participating in utility green power programs. More than 650,000 customers are currently participating in these programs, according to NREL.

This year’s assessment finds that more than 850 utilities across the United States now offer green power programs. In 2009, utility green power sales exceeded 6 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh), representing more than 5 percent of total electricity sales for some of the most popular programs.

NREL says wind energy represents approximately two-thirds of electricity generated for green energy programs nationwide.

A recent wind power assessment conducted by NREL shows that U.S. wind resources are larger than previously estimated. The new assessment shows that onshore U.S. wind resources could generate nearly 37,000,000 gigawatt-hours (GWh) annually, more than nine times current total U.S. electricity consumption.

In addition, a shift to 20 percent or more of the Eastern Interconnection’s electrical load to wind energy is possible by 2024, but costs for new transmission lines could be as high as $93 billion, according to a new NREL study.

The assessment ranks the “Top 10” utility programs by 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.

Austin Energy in Austin, Texas, sold the largest amount of renewable energy — 764,895,830 kWh/year — in the U.S. 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.).

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