The U.S. Department of Energy recently recognized six organizations for their leadership in advancing “green power” production and distribution during the 10th annual Green Power Leadership Awards in Portland, Ore.
Companies and consumers voluntarily buy renewable energy through local suppliers to help reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign energy sources and to help expand an industry that has been creating thousands of new jobs each year, the department said.
The Energy Department encourages the growth of these programs nationwide by selecting exemplary programs to receive Green Power Leadership Awards. This year’s winners are 3Degrees, the Bonneville Environmental Foundation, SolarCity and SunRun, which were recognized by the department as the Non-Utility Green Power Suppliers of the Year, and La Plata Electric Association and Portland General Electric, which were recognized as the Utility Green Power Programs of the Year.
Green Power programs are designed to provide consumers the opportunity to purchase clean-energy options from environmentally preferred sources. Winning organizations are evaluated on criteria such as: resources and technologies used, total annual renewable energy sales, number of customers served, market impact, amount of green power supplied, and overall value provided to customer participants. Through the combination of utility green pricing and competitive markets, green power is now available in most states.
According to the department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, about 860 utilities offer green power programs in the United States. Annual sales from utility green power programs have more than doubled since 2005, and annual green power market sales increased by 17 percent in 2009, with a compound annual growth rate of 37 percent since 2005. Nearly 1.4 million customers purchased green power in 2009 through a green power program, competitive marketer program or a marketer of renewable energy certificates.
The Utility Green Power Programs of the Year recognizes utilities that are leaders in developing and carrying out voluntary green power programs to serve their customers. This category is open to all utilities (municipal utilities, rural electric cooperatives or investor-owned utilities) offering voluntary renewable energy programs to their customers.
The Non-Utility Green Power Suppliers of the Year recognizes leading non-utility providers that supply renewable energy to residential or nonresidential consumers who make voluntary purchases of renewable energy.
The award winners are:
3Degrees, San Francisco: This company has partnered with more than 900 organizations to reduce climate change and accelerate a low-carbon, renewable energy economy through “Green-e” certified renewable energy certificates and verified emission reduction projects worldwide. 3Degrees also partners with utilities to offer residential and business customers a voluntary green power option, which 5.1 million have chosen. Its green power programs have achieved an average participation rate of 6 percent, nearly three times the national average.
Bonneville Environmental Foundation, Portland, Ore.: This foundation is a nonprofit supplier of green power that reinvests the profits from its green power products in renewable energy development. Since 2000, the foundation and its partners have supported more than 3 million megawatt-hours of renewable energy generation nationwide. In 2009, the foundation installed 55 solar projects at U.S. schools and community buildings, and worked with Portland Public Schools to create the first “Net Zero Classroom” design integrated with solar photovoltaic systems.
SolarCity, Foster City, Calif.: This company is one of the nation’s largest solar and energy-efficiency service providers and has completed more than 9,000 projects since 2006. SolarCity offers solar design, financing, installation and monitoring to businesses and homeowners from a single source. The company’s innovations include a solar lease, a community purchase program, a combination of solar power and electric vehicle charging infrastructure, and the integration of solar power and energy-efficiency audits and retrofits.
SunRun, San Francisco: The company has developed more than 5,000 home solar installations in five states that can produce more than 25 megawatts of electricity annually from residential solar photovoltaic systems. It has been growing 500 percent annually. SunRun partners with 20 leading local solar installers, who employ more than 2,500 local, “green-collar” workers.
Portland General Electric, Portland, Ore.: This company is an investor-owned utility serving more than 817,000 customers and 52 Oregon cities. In 2009, more than 10 percent of the utility’s customers voluntarily signed up to participate in the Renewable Power Program, which saw sales of 740 million kilowatt-hours last year. Because of the excellent customer participation rate, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory ranked the program No. 1 for the number of renewable power customers in its annual survey. Portland General Electric received Green Power Leadership Awards in 2006 and 2008.
La Plata Electric Association, Durango, Colo.: This rural electric cooperative, which serves more than 30,000 member-owners in rural communities of Southwest Colorado, purchases Green-e Certified or equivalent renewable energy and its attributes from wind-generating facilities across the western United States through its power supplier, Tri-State Generation and Transmission. Since LaPlata’s members are voluntarily purchasing 25,500 of the 100-kwh blocks of green power available — more than 25 percent of the renewable energy sold by Tri-State — it is now the leader in green power sales among all of Tri-State’s 44 cooperatives.