A group of corporate energy buyers announced last week that it has reached a collective goal of purchasing 1,000 megawatts of new, cost competitive power generated from renewable energy sources, enough power to displace a large coal fired power plant. Founded in 2000 by the World Resources Institute (WRI), the Green Power Market Development Group (GPMDG) was designed to help some of the largest energy consumers in the U.S. purchase and support clean, renewable energy.
The Group reached its 10-year goal in nine years. The GPMDG consists of 15 companies: Alcoa Inc., Dow Chemical, DuPont, FedEx, General Motors, Georgia-Pacific, Google, IBM, Interface Inc., Johnson & Johnson, Michelin NA, Natureworks LLC, Pitney Bowes Inc., Staples, and Starbucks.
WRI also worked with Apple, BT Americas, HP, Intel, J.P. Morgan, Toyota Motor Sales, Wal-Mart, Wells Fargo, and Whole Foods to complete renewable energy projects that contributed to meeting the goal.
“Around the country, the legacy of passive energy consumption is being replaced with smarter, proactive energy management,” said Jonathan Lash, WRI president. “Energy, environment, and financial managers are focusing on cost and performance, and at the same time, they’re harnessing nature’s power.”
Speakers at a press conference on May 1 at WRI were Mark Buckley, vice president of Environmental Affairs at Staples; Dan Usas, global energy manager of Worldwide Energy Management at Johnson & Johnson; and Kamesh Gupta, manager of Planning and Programs at General Motors. They discussed their motivations for forming the Group and seeking renewable energy, the resulting major projects they have developed, and the “green job” impacts of their solar and wind projects.
Report from WRI Offers Guidance
As the Group reaches its goal, WRI is also releasing a new report, “Harnessing Nature’s Power: Deploying and Financing On-Site Renewable Power”. The report offers strategies and approaches that can be valuable to a wide range of firms looking at potential investments, contracts, and facility operations regarding use of renewable energy. It provides guidance on financing or purchasing renewable technologies for use at corporate facilities and advice on where to go for further information.
“New markets for renewable energy, emerging under state leadership, are already available, and energy prices are expected soon to incorporate the costs of emitting greenhouse gases,” said Alex Perera, a WRI senior associate and director of the GPMDG. “Forward thinking business managers are taking advantage of these opportunities to bring clean technologies to scale and take a lead in renewable energy deployment.”
The Group’s initiative is beginning to be replicated widely by a variety of entities, including large corporations as well as smaller firms such as dairy farms, hotels, restaurants, wineries, and ski resorts. And the policies adopted and investments made by the U.S. Congress and the Obama administration over the next several years will shape the country’s infrastructure for decades to come.
Perera added, “Transforming our energy system is a journey that will require continued new learning and policy innovation.”
Some of the report’s highlights include:
- A listing of federal incentives for renewable energy
- A comparison of renewable energy costs and the 2008 average U.S. commercial electricity price. The chart seen here compares the economic cost of electricity produced by the renewable technologies most commonly deployed on-site to the average retail price paid by commercial users in 2008. The comparison shows that several renewable applications compare favorably, including solar hot water, large wind, and geothermal heat pump. Solar PV is especially attractive in states that offer policy support.
- U.S. maps highlighting wind resources, solar radiation and state metering regulations
- Case studies on how companies have reduced costs with renewable energy
- New models – such as a “solar loan program” to commercial and industrial customers – that utilities have implemented to encourage renewables in their service territories
- Illustrations of the importance of allocating capital budgets to greenhouse gas reduction projects