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River Falls ranks high for green power participation

Falcon News Service

November 10, 2022

River Falls Municipal Utilities ranks second in the nation for green power participation and seventh in the nation for green power sales rate in 2021, according to the federal government’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

“This is each individual customer that wants to do this voluntarily…that’s what’s really powerful,” said River Falls Utility Director Kevin Westhuis.

According to the report for 2021, RFMU had 14.6% of its customers participating in the city’s green energy programs, falling second only to Oregon’s Portland General Electric.

The green power sales rate, for which River Falls ranked seventh, is the percentage of green power sales out of the total electric sales that municipal utilities earn in a single year. RFMU had a green power sales rate of 6.3%, according to the report.

The NREL report, which includes more than 2,000 municipal companies from across the United States, has River Falls consistently achieving a Top 10 ranking since 2004, according to the city’s website.

To achieve this consistency, the City of River Falls offers a green block program for residents. In the program a resident purchases a “block,” which is a $2 addition to their monthly utility bill from the city, according to Westhuis. Residents can add subsequent blocks to their bill if they so choose, and can cancel at any time, Westhuis said.

The money collected from the green block program in the city gets sent to Focus on Energy, based in Madison, to work on other environmentally safe programs, according to Westhuis.

“That money goes towards promoting renewable energy programs within the state,” he said.

Westhuis had a simple answer to how the city achieves its numbers for the green block program: “It’s the good old-fashioned way of the ask… You can’t get the sale unless you ask for the sale.”

Numbers for RFMU continue to grow this year. According to a report from the city’s Conservation and Efficiency coordinator, customer participation in green power stands at 16.9% as of September, an increase of 2.3 percentage points from 2021.

“These are powerful choices,” Westhuis said. “It’s very inexpensive, and everyone does their own little part.”

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