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Texas utility Austin Energy number one in green sales ranking

In an annual ranking of leading utility green power programs, Austin Energy in Texas comes first in the nation, selling 334,446,100 kWh in 2004, more than 70,000 kWh ahead of Portland General Electric in second place, which is followed by the Sacramento Municipal Utility District and Xcel Energy in Colorado. Ranked by the percentage of customers participating, the top utilities are Iowa's Lenox Municipal Utilities with 14.5% of its customers signed up and California's City of Palo Alto Utilities at 10.9%. Four other utilities tied in third place with 5.2% of customers participating. The rankings are conducted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), based on information provided by the utilities. Total green power program sales in 2004 reached 1.9 billion kWh, says NREL. The utility programs are just one segment of the larger green power marketing industry, which sells power to more than 500,000 customers nationwide and helps support more than 1600 MW of renewables capacity. Nearly 600 utilities in 34 states now offer such programs. NREL also found that several large utilities have lowered their green power rates. Because of increasing prices of fossil fuel generation, says NREL's Blair Swezey, "Purchases of renewable energy through utility green power programs are becoming increasingly affordable."

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