Renewable energy wins market share, gets EPA boost

While still just a fraction of total US electric output, renewable energy is gaining market share. More than 650 Mw of new competitively marketed renewable electricity capacity is planned in the US, up from just 126 Mw a year ago, the US Department of Energy reported.


By the OGJ Online Staff

HOUSTON, Aug. 2 -- While still just a fraction of total US electric output, renewable energy is gaining market share.

More than 650 Mw of new competitively marketed renewable electricity capacity is planned in the US, up from just 126 Mw a year ago, the US Department of Energy reported. According to the latest estimate, utility "green pricing" programs have added 110 Mw of new renewable power capacity, with another 170 Mw likely to be installed in the next year.

Utilities in states that have not restructured their electric systems are currently leading the way in selling green power, said the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), a DOE unit. So-called green pricing programs, in which utilities sell renewable-generated electricity at a premium price, grew substantially in 1999, with 24 new utility programs.

That nearly doubled the 1998 number of programs, bringing the total to 52. Those programs have led to 73 Mw of new renewable energy installations, with another 120 Mw planned. The DOE unit said the numbers don't include renewable energy quotas mandated by state laws.

By comparison, competitively marketed green power in California, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and some New England states has led to 53 Mw of new renewable energy installations, with another 60 Mw in the works.

Consumers Energy, Michigan's largest utility and a unit of CMS Energy Corp., Jackson, Mich., received approval last week to begin selling green power. Starting in October, customers will be able to buy 10, 50, or 100% of their power from renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power.

The renewable portion of the customer's bills will cost an extra 3.2¢/kw-hr. Consumers Energy will contract for up to 50 Mw of new renewable energy for the program, and has already contracted to purchase power from a new 5 Mw wind project.

Under a new partnership program announced Monday by the US Environmental Protection Agency, some of the country's biggest corporations pledged to switch to green power for a portion of their electricity needs within the next year. In return, EPA will provide technical assistance and recognition.

The founding partners agreed to buy more than 280,000 Mw-hr of green power over the next year, EPA said. The agency said this commitment will prevent 200,000 tons of carbon dioxide, believed to be a major global warming gas, from being emitted into the atmosphere.

Among the founding partners are the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Co. Research Boulevard Facility, Austin, Tex; Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh; Pa.; Ford Motor Co., Dearborn, Mich.; General Motors Co., Detroit, Mich.; Johnson & Johnson, New Brunswick, NJ.; Steelcase Inc., Grand Rapids, Mich.; and various cities and US government facilities.

More in Government