The number of electric power providers offering customers an opportunity to buy green power along with the number of green power sales has grown in recent years according to an annual assessment by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). In 2008, despite the economy, green power sales experienced a 20 percent increase from the previous year.

Under green power programs, consumers can choose to help support additional electricity production from renewable resources. According to the analysis, over 850 utilities across the United States are now offering green power programs and more than 600,000 customers are participating in these programs.

The increase in customer participation can be attributed to several factors. For one, green power will reduce a wide range of negative environmental impacts. For example, wind energy eliminates virtually all pollution and waste from fossil and nuclear generation.

Today, green power usually costs a little bit more than traditional energy sources, However, conventional energy sources often contain many hidden environmental and health costs that are not reflected in the market price – making it seem cheaper than it really is. Additionally, in some electricity markets, green power can actually cost less than the conventional source because many states now offer incentives or subsidies for purchasing renewable energy. Green power can also offer protection against rising and increasingly volatile energy prices. The cost of wind energy has dropped by 80 percent since 1980 and will continue to decline as the industry matures, whereas the cost of fossil fuel inputs such as oil and coal are rising as supply dwindles.