By Silicon Valley / San Jose Business Journal

The city of Santa Clara took the top spot in the Environmental Protection Agency's Green Power Communities rankings with more than 163,000 megawatt-hours of the community's electricity usage coming from voluntary purchases of green power.

Palo Alto was ranked No. 7 on the list. To see all the cities and their rankings, click here.

In 2009, businesses in Santa Clara, led by Santa Clara University and Applied Materials Inc., purchased almost 38,000 MWhs of renewable energy certificates through Silicon Valley Power's Santa Clara Green Power program.

The 4,000 residential participants in the Santa Clara program purchased the equivalent of over 25,000 MWh of wind and solar. In addition, some Santa Clara businesses supported renewable energy by purchasing RECs from other vendors.

Most notably, the nation's largest purchaser of RECs is Intel Corp., which purchased the equivalent of over 1.4 million MWhs in 2009 for their national operations from a nation-wide supplier. Santa Clara Green Power, jointly managed by Silicon Valley Power and 3Degrees, has a customer participation rate of eight percent, the sixth best customer participation rate in the country.

Santa Clarans' voluntary green power purchases, which are above and beyond the utility's own purchases of renewable energy, helped prevent the emission of approximately 117,142 metric tons of carbon dioxide. This is equivalent to the greenhouse gas emissions from over 22,000 passenger vehicles a year, or the CO2 emissions from burning more than 600 railcars worth of coal.

This first place ranking by the EPA comes on the heels of SVP achieving fourth in the U.S. for new solar electric installations based on the average number of solar watts per customer installed in 2009, as ranked by the Solar Electric Power Association.

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