Today in Cleantech

Let’s take a trip back in time this Monday to mark down the important information of which U.S. utilities lead the nation in renewable energy — and they ain’t in California. According to the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), as of 2010, Oregon’s Portland General Electric had the most customers signed up for renewable energy programs, with 78,000 residential and commercial customers, some 12.6 percent of all eligible customers. That’s much better than the national average of about 2 percent, and indicates Portland has a lot of green-conscious customers — as well as a lot of cost-competitive renewable power to sell, including wind and biomass. While California’s utilities are under mandate to add a much larger overall share of renewable power to their mix — one-third by 2020 — they’ve not been as fast in signing up customers to buy that power. As for total renewable energy sales, Texas’s Austin Energy’s 754.2 million kilowatt-hours beat PGE’s 735.7 million kWh, although just by a hair. Austin’s municipal utility has a lot of cool renewable energy-smart grid integration projects going on, like the DOE-funded Pecan Street Project — worth checking out.