Big US firms form group to buy more renewable energy at competitive prices

Companies including Bloomberg, General motors sign Renewable Energy Buyers' Principles to meet power purchase goals

 
By Ankur Paliwal
Published: Saturday 04 July 2015

Large-scale buyers have been complaining of difficulties in negotiating with traditional utilities to purchase renewables at competitive prices at the scale they need (Photo: William Starkey/Creative Commons)

In order to increase the use and availaibility of cost-competitive renewable energy to run their businesses, 12 leading companies of US have signed a Renewable Energy Buyers' Principles. The companies claim that the principles will help them meet their emission targets by better comunicating and negoatiating purchase of renewable energy with utilities and energy suppliers.

The companies, including Bloomberg, Facebook, General Motors, Intel, Johnson & Johnson, Procter and Gamble, Mars, and Walmart, have set up a combined renewable energy target of 8.4 million megawatt hours per year through 2020, which they are seeking to achieve using these principles.

Large-scale buyers have been complaining of difficulties in negotiating with traditional utilities to purchase renewables at competitive prices at the scale they need, increasing complexity and transaction costs. The principles have been drafted in association with World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the World Resources Institute (WRI), a Washignton based non-profit.
 
“The Buyers’ Principles outline six criteria that would help companies meet their ambitious purchasing goals,” reads the statement released by WWF. The principles include greater choice in energy procurement options, more access to cost competitive options and long term power purchase contracts. “The principles are a powerful way to bring energy suppliers and consumers together, enabling us to work creatively to maximize the inherent benefits that come from clean energy generation with more predictable costs,” said said Kevin Rabinovitch, global sustainability director for Mars Incorporated. “A significant part of the value to us from renewable energy is the ability to lock in energy price certainty and avoid fuel price volatility,” the notes the principle document.

The principles address several major obstacles large companies face in procuring and installing renewable energy, reads the statement. “We know cost-competitive renewable energy exists but the problem is that it is way too difficult for most companies to buy,” said Amy Hargroves, director of corporate responsibility and sustainability for Sprint. “Very few companies have the knowledge and resources to purchase renewable energy given today’s very limited and complex options. Our hope is that by identifying the commonalities among large buyers, the principles will catalyze market changes that will help make renewables more affordable and accessible for all companies,” said  Hargroves. “If we can buy renewable energy at lesser cost, we can operate for less — and we can pass on the savings and a cleaner energy future to our customers and their communities,” said David Ozment, senior director of energy for Walmart.

The Buyers’ Group is an informal consortium of companies interested in overcoming the obstacles to buying renewable energy and sharing best practices – not a power purchase group. The initial signatories are pioneers, but the group can expand. “To meet their near-term renewable energy goals these 12 companies alone need over 8 million MWh of renewable energy, which is enough electricity to power nearly 800,000 homes every year,” said Letha Tawney, senior associate for WRI.

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