River Falls municipal utilities received national recognition from the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in October for the 16th year.
NREL has assessed utility renewable energy efforts in four categories and published lists of the top ten utilities across the country. River Falls Municipal Utilities (RFMU) customers rank third nationally for green power participation and fifth nationally for community green power sales rate.
With the exception of 2005, River Falls has achieved at least one top ten ranking in the NREL each year, the lists have been published since 2004.
NREL’s list of green energy participation rates measures the percentage of customers who have participated in a utility’s renewable or “green” energy programs. In 2020, around 12% of RFMU customers voluntarily participated in Choose Renewable.
The Green Power Sales Rate list compares the ratio of a utility’s renewable energy sales to total sales. In 2020, renewables accounted for 6.55% of RFMU’s sales, up from 4.16% in 2019, the latest year for which NREL compiled this data.
“We are proud of the people of River Falls for keeping our relatively small community on the renewable energy map,” said Kevin Westhuis, Director of Utilities for River Falls Municipal Utilities. “Having so many people invested in a carbon-free future is very exciting and I hope we can continue to lead the way until every community in the country is running on 100% renewable energy. “
One of the utility’s most popular offerings, Choose Renewable, helped the community gain recognition. The program allows customers to sign up to increase their monthly bill by a few dollars, ensuring their space is powered by renewable energies such as solar, wind and biogas. A typical house can run on clean energy with the purchase of two to three blocks, with a 300 kilowatt-hour block costing $ 2 per month. RFMU also continues to add renewables to its overall power supply.
In September 2021, the Point Beach Solar Energy Center went live. Located near Two Rivers, the facility includes more than 315,000 solar panels capable of generating 100 megawatts of electricity. WPPI Energy, a wholesale electricity supplier owned by the member utilities it serves, purchases the energy.
As a member-owner of WPPI Energy, River Falls is now powered by some of this energy. With the addition of Point Beach Solar, membership in WPPI Energy is on track to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by approximately 45% by 2025 compared to 2005.