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Green Power Programs in Washington

The Revised Code of Washington (RCW) requires that electric utilities in the state offer "a voluntary option to purchase qualified alternative energy resources" to their customers (RCW 19.29A.090(2)). In accordance with this requirement, the state's three investor-owned electric utilities (IOUs) - Avista Corporation (Avista), Pacific Power & Light Company (Pacific Power), and Puget Sound Energy (PSE) - have created special programs that help their customers access such alternative energy resources.

These programs typically work by allowing customers - including homeowners, renters, and business owners - to purchase "blocks" of alternative energy for a small fee per clock.  Each customer can choose to offset as much of their energy usage as they wish, up to and including 100 percent of their monthly usage.

The energy delivered through these programs is "green" power that comes from the following sources:

  • Wind
  • Solar
  • Geothermal
  • Landfill gas
  • Wave or tide action
  • Gas produced during the treatment of wastewater
  • Qualified hydropower
  • Biomass energy, so long as it meets certain requirements
  • Dairy methane

If you wish to participate in an investor-owned utility's green power program, please access the appropriate link below:

Below you can find data and graphics that show the impact of customer purchases through green power programs.

TABLE 1: GREEN POWER SALES (in MWh)

Company Description 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Avista Green Power Annual Sales (MWh) 55,893 53,333 56,213 56,804 56,173 53,678
Green Power Sales as a Percent of Total Sales   1.0% 0.9% 1.0% 1.0% 1.0% 0.9%
Pacific Power Green Power Annual Sales (MWh) 8,856 9,688 10,023 10,157 10,214 10,753
Green Power Sales as a Percent of Total Sales   0.2% 0.3% 0.3% 0.2% 0.3% 0.3%
PSE Green Power Annual Sales (MWh) 365,796 380,434 421,742 490,685 471,027 500,925
Green Power Sales as a Percent of Total Sales   1.7% 1.8% 2.0% 2.4% 2.3% 2.3%
Source: Avista Corporation, Pacific Power & Light Company, and Puget Sound Energy, December 2018. Note: Data is end-of-year snapshots for each year.

Puget Sound Energy, the largest IOU in Washington, unsurprisingly supplies the vast majority of electricity provided through IOU green power programs in the state. Since 2014, PSE has supplied at least 2 percent of its total annual electric load through its green power programs. Avista consistently supplies around 1 percent of its load with green power, while Pacific Power receives less than one-half of 1 percent of its load through green power programs. The combined totals from all three companies show a steady growth in the amount of green power provided, and an uptick since 2015 in the percent of load supplies through green power programs.

TABLE 2: CUSTOMER CLASS BREAKDOWN

Company Description 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Avista Total Number of Green Power Program Participating Customers 2,407 2,506 2,465 2,907 2,903 3,635
Percent of Participating Customers   1.0% 1.0% 1.0% 1.2% 1.2% 1.4%
Pacific Power Total Number of Green Power Program Participating Customers 2,752 3,035 3,201 3,500 3,981 4,692
Percent of Participating Customers   2.2% 2.4% 2.5% 2.7% 3.1% 3.6%
PSE Total Number of Green Power Program Participating Customers 34,962 40,518 43,318 43,365 41,541 46,210
Percent of Participating Customers   3.2% 3.7% 4.0% 3.9% 3.7% 4.1%
Source: Avista Corporation, Pacific Power & Light Company, and Puget Sound Energy, December 2018. Note: Data is end-of-year snapshots for each year.

While PSE continues to Serve more total customers through its green power programs, Pacific Power has seen impressive growth in customers served since 2012. This has helped lead to an overall increase in the number of Washington electric customers that participate in green power programs. In 2017, 3.6 percent of Washington IOU customers were part of such programs. The vast majority of these were residential customers.

TABLE 3: GREEN POWER SALES BY FUEL TYPE (in MWh)

Company Fuel Type 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Avista Solar 0 23 23 152 576 543
  Wind 55,893 53,310 56,190 56,652 55,597 53,135
  Other 0 0 0 0 0 0
Pacific Power Solar 0 0 0 0 0 3,441
  Wind 8,856 9,688 10,023 10,157 10,214 7,312
  Other 0 0 0 0 0 0
PSE Solar 3,031 10,029 8,535 815 770 32,592
  Wind 245,627 302,294 324,207 387,013 349,489 376,757
  Other 117,138 68,111 89,000 102,857 120,768 91,576
Source: Avista Corporation, Pacific Power & Light Company, and Puget Sound Energy, December 2018. Note: Data is end-of-year snapshots for each year.

 

As mentioned above, green power can come from many sources. In practice, wind power is the dominant source of electricity for IOU green power programs; it provided 78 percent of the electricity for such programs from 2012 through 2017. The situation is beginning to change, however, as programs incorporate more solar power into their offerings. In October 2918, Avista christened the largest solar array in Washington to serve its Solar Select commercial customers. PSE is currently the only IOU that provides power through something other than wind and solar; its programs incorporate geothermal, landfill gas, and low-impact hydro, among other options.