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From Cities to Soap, Recognizing the US EPA's Newest Top Green Power Users

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has updated its quarterly rankings of organizations that supply their electricity needs with renewable energy. You'll recognize a few of the new additions, and several that are raising the bar for everyone.

The EPA's rankings spotlight annualized kWh usage of green power (in kWh), defining "green power" as renewable energy sources with the highest environmental benefits: solar, wind, geothermal, biogas, some biomass, and low-impact small hydro.

Twelve organizations on the newest top-50 list have increased their green power usage in the past three months. The City of Houston, Texas hiked its estimated annual green power usage by 42 percent to nearly 623 million kWh, powering almost half of its overall electricity needs. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, meanwhile, is doubling its annual green power usage to 400 million kWh, and its contribution to electricity mix to 12 percent. Other groups significantly raising their projected annual green power usage include BNY Mellon, BD, State Street, TD Bank, the U.S. EPA, the State of Illinois and Safeway. Special first-time recognition on the EPA's overall top-50 list for annualized kWh usage of green power (in kWh) are global consumer product conglomerate Unilever (debuting at #13); JP Morgan Chase (27th), and EMC (33rd).

Today's feel-good moment: overall the EPA counts nearly 800 organizations nationwide that use green power to meet all of their electricity needs, collectively racking up 11.5 billion kWh of green power annually. Seventeen of the top 50 largest organizations ranked by the EPA now get at least 100 percent of their total electricity provided by "green" sources, and nine of them actually exceed that.

In rankings of organizations by on-site green power generation, notable additions include Kaiser Permanente (17 million kWh, 7 percent of its on-site total electricity use), Cooper Farms (12 million kWh, 75 percent of its on-site electricity use), and Yolo County, CA (13.5 million kWh, 152 percent of its electricity use thanks to on-site solar). The EPA also is tracking eight more groups that have long-term green power contracts, four of which are at least 20-year durations.

Among federal government agencies, the U.S. Army's Fort Carson in Colorado is getting nearly 40 percent of its electricity from solar and wind energy (81 million kWh), while the U.S. Treasury Department is reducing its green-power kWh by a third. For local governments, the City of Boston gets a nod for increasing its purchasing to 28 million kWh, or 18 percent of its electricity use.

As always with such data-mined analyses, it's all about how you slice it. On the one hand, we should applaud those who are using the most renewable energy in terms of volume (kWh) — but we also should celebrate those who turn to renewable energy as their main or sole electricity source. That's why the EPA publicizes its data with each of these criteria. And as always, it's important to acknowledge the thousands of small businesses, municipalities, and even residents nationwide — and multiplied around the globe — who are embracing renewable energy.

Lead image: Conference Table with green chairs, via Shutterstock

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