Less than a week after handing out 11 honors under the Clean Air Excellence Awards, the Environmental Protection Agency is announcing the winners of the Green Power Community Challenge.

In the Green Power Community Challenge, communities from across the country compete in renewable energy use. The program gives out two awards: one for the community achieving the highest percentage of green power in electricity use, and one for the community using the most green power.

Thirty-five communities participated, with representation coming from Illinois, Maryland, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Washington, California, Connecticut, Utah, Texas, Missouri and the District of Columbia. (Sure Oregon and California are expected to join any efforts toward renewable energy, but notice red states like Utah, Texas and Missouri are in the competition there too!)

And this year’s winners are…

  • Washington, D.C., Green Power Community, which took home the prize for most kilowatt-hours of green power. Over the last year, D.C. government, businesses and residents used their collective purchasing power to buy more than 1 billion kWh of green power, constituting more than 11 percent of the district’s total electricity use.
  • Oak Park, Ill., Green Power Community, which came in first for the highest percentage of green energy. Oak Park used clean energy to achieve an astounding 91.9 percent of its total electricity needs.

According to the EPA, the challenge blew past its original goals. Participants in the program used a collective 5 billion kWh of sustainable energy in the past year – the greenhouse gas reductions are equal to what would be done by turning off the electricity in 426,000 homes.

The EPA is continuing the program, currently inviting communities to participate in the 2012-2013 challenge. Winners get bragging rights and “special attention from the EPA.” This year’s achievements are certainly respectable, but imagine what kind of impact would be possible with a shinier prize. (Just a suggestion!)

Main photo credit: Johan Swanepoel/Shutterstock