Fact Checks

  • FACT: Many electricity companies around the U.S. are big fans of renewables. Right now, millions of customers are powering their homes and businesses with clean, inexpensive renewable energy.

  • MidAmerican Energy Co., Iowa's largest utility, is investing in lower cost wind power which will reduce consumer power bills. By adding $1.9 billion worth of wind energy – a total of 656 new turbines – MidAmerican will help stabilize long-term electric rates by providing a rate reduction totaling $10 million per year by 2017 – all at no net cost to MidAmerican customers. (Source: Sioux City Journal, June 2013, http://bit.ly/19vcXWd)

  • Xcel Energy Inc., the biggest U.S. provider of wind power, plans to boost its wind capacity by about 14% to reduce fuel costs. Purchasing nearly 700 megawatts of new wind from sites in Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico will save customers $590 million in fuel expenses over 20 years and the wind farms will generate power at costs lower than most of Xcel's natural gas plants. (Source: Bloomberg, July 2013, http://bloom.bg/176G9kU)

  • "Right now, natural gas and wind power are more economic than nuclear power in the Midwestern electricity market," according to Howard Learner, executive director of the Environmental Law and Policy Center. The wind power boom has benefited consumers in regions where wind development is fastest, contributing to a 40% wholesale power-price plunge since 2008 in the Midwest, for example. (Source: Bloomberg, March 2013, http://bloom.bg/Y3jnrG)

  • Renewable energy power generation is a booming business. For example, electricity generation from wind increased from about 6 billion kilowatt hours in 2000 to about 140 billion kilowatt hours in 2012. U.S. power plants used renewable energy sources to generate about 12% of our electricity in 2012. (Source: Energy Information Administration, May 2013, http://1.usa.gov/13jrfUU)

  • In early 2013, the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) released its annual Utility Solar Rankings report for 2012. They found that utilities had integrated almost 2.4 gigawatts (GW) of solar electric capacity in 2012. This is equivalent to the construction of 8 natural gas combined cycle power plants. (Source: SEPA, June 2013, http://bit.ly/1bpxZEX)

  • The 2012 SEPA Utility Solar Rankings report found that big utilities like big solar. The utilities' market share for large-scale solar projects (> 5 MW) was 1,106 MW or 46% of all annual solar capacity, a growth of almost 160% over 2011. (Source: SEPA, June 2013, http://bit.ly/1bpxZEX)

  • In June, 2013, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) released its assessment of leading utility green power programs for 2012. In first place is Portland General Electric (PGE), with nearly 88,000 participants signing up for the voluntary program. PGE sold 834,125 renewable megawatt hours in 2012. (Source: NREL, June 2013, http://1.usa.gov/14gYQTk)

  • According to NREL, "Green power sales from the top 10 utility programs exceeded 4.2 million MWh in 2012, up from 3.9 million MWh in 2010. Wind energy represents approximately 85% of electricity generated for green energy programs nationwide." (Source: NREL, June 2013, http://1.usa.gov/14gYQTk)

  • There is still plenty of room for innovation in how utilities add renewable energy resources. Google, a major user of renewable energy, is recommending a market mechanism called "Renewable Energy Tariffs." As an alternative to Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) or Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs), this structure allows companies to request and purchase renewable energy directly from their utilities. Similar programs are supported by Duke Energy and utilities owned by Dominion Resources Inc. and NV Energy Inc. (Source: Bloomberg, April 2013, http://bloom.bg/117ADer and Google, http://bit.ly/14C8rqo)

  • Duke Energy, the largest electric power holding company in the U.S. currently has more than 1,700 megawatts (MW) of wind and solar energy in operation – enough to serve a half-million households – and, during 2012, Duke Energy completed 5 new wind farms and 3 new solar farms. (Source: 2012 Duke Energy Sustainability Report, http://bit.ly/16A4hwK)

  • Looking toward the future, Duke Energy wants to grow its renewable energy portfolio. According to their 2012 Sustainability Report, Duke has an ambitious goal to "own or contract 6,000 MW of wind, solar and biomass by 2020." (Source: 2012 Duke Energy Sustainability Report, January 2013, http://bit.ly/16A4hwK)

  • Nextera Energy is the largest owner/operator of wind and solar generation in North America. They currently deploy more than 10,000 net megawatts of wind energy and 360 megawatts of solar. These resources combined power over 2.7 million homes. (Source: Nextera Energy Resources, July 2013, http://bit.ly/ZYaelw)

  • In response to demand from consumers, American Electric Power Co. Inc. (AEP), owner of America's largest electricity transmission system, is planning to add up to 200 MW of new wind energy resources. This latest addition adds to AEP's 1,994 MW of renewable resources as of March, 2013. (Source: Reuters, June 2013, http://reut.rs/194FwcZ)

  • Warren Buffett's energy unit, MidAmerican Energy Holdings is expanding with a $5.6 billion acquisition of Nevada's largest utility, NV Energy. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, MidAmerican Chief Executive Greg Abel said he "views the deal as both a good investment and a way to expand [MidAmerican's] renewable-energy business," as the relationship will allow NV Energy to do more renewable energy development. (Source: Wall Street Journal, May 2013, http://on.wsj.com/147Dd4d)

  • MidAmerican owns some serious renewable energy resources. As of December, 2012, they own over 4 gigawatts of renewable energy generation – including 3,697 MW of wind; 198 MW of geothermal; and 116 MW of solar. When current under-construction projects are complete, MidAmerican will own over 6 GW of wind and solar. (Source: Bloomberg New Energy Finance, June 2013, http://bit.ly/ZYgTfj)

  • In January 2013, MidAmerican acquired a 579-megawatt solar project in California, called Antelope Valley. Edison International's Southern California Edison utility will sign a power purchase agreement to buy the electricity for 20 years. (Source: Bloomberg, June 2013, http://bloom.bg/16jHEwt)

  • As Bloomberg New Energy Finance CEO Michael Liebreich writes in a February 2013 comment, "…an electrical utility or fuels distribution company is fundamentally a provider of energy and related services, and not just a coal generator or a gas burner. Optionality allows a company to embrace new opportunities first at the margin, but eventually at the heart of operations." (Source: Bloomberg New Energy Finance, February 2013, http://bit.ly/13BgML7)

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