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News Release: NREL Highlights Leading Utility Green Power Programs

Feb. 21, 2003

Golden, CO. — The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) today released its annual ranking of leading utility "green pricing" programs. Under green pricing, consumers can choose to help support additional electrical production from renewable resources such as solar and wind. More than 300 utilities in 32 states now offer these programs.

Using information provided by utilities, NREL develops "Top 10" rankings of utility programs in the following categories: total sales of renewable energy to program participants, total number of customer participants, customer participation rate, and the lowest price premium charged for a green pricing service using new renewable resources.

Ranked by sales of green power, the green pricing program of Austin (Texas) Energy is first in the nation, followed by Sacramento Municipal Utility District, Xcel Energy (Colo.), the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), and Portland General Electric.

Ranked by customer participation rates, the top five are Moorhead (Minn.) Public Service, Orcas Power and Light Cooperative (Wash.), LADWP, Holy Cross Energy (Colo.), and Central Electric Cooperative (Oregon). (See attached tables for additional rankings).

"The utilities represented on these lists provide leading examples of how renewable energy can be successfully marketed to electricity customers," said Lori Bird, senior energy analyst at NREL. "Whether large or small, all utilities have the potential to craft successful green pricing programs."

To date, more than 425 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy capacity has been installed or is planned as a result of green pricing programs. Utility green pricing programs are one segment of a larger green power marketing industry that serves more than 400,000 customers nationwide and has resulted in nearly 1,500 MW of actual or planned renewable energy development.

"Utility green pricing programs are an important mechanism for creating greater consumer awareness of renewable energy options across the country," said Blair Swezey, NREL principal policy advisor. "Consumers want to support renewable energy and these programs offer a vehicle through which to do that."

NREL's Energy Analysis Office performs analyses of green power market trends and is funded by DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

NREL is a national laboratory managed by Midwest Research Institute, Battelle and Bechtel. The laboratory is a leading center for research into photovoltaics, wind energy, plant- and waste-derived fuels and chemicals, energy-efficient buildings, advanced vehicle design, geothermal energy and hydrogen fuel cells.

—Sarah Barba