- Around 60 U.S. companies, including Facebook and Microsoft, and several environmental groups are forming a new alliance, called the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance, aimed at developing 60 GW of renewables by 2025.
- The companies said the alliance is being formed to knock down barriers they say they face with utilities and regulators in their goals to reduce carbon emissions. The group cited the inefficency of power purchase agreements in procuring renewables for smaller companies.
- The alliance aims to bundle up power purchase agreements, connect generators and buyers, and persuade policymakers of the economic benefits of new investments in renewables, according to the Financial Times.
Fed up with what they say are regulatory blockades to purchasing renewable energy, a slew of U.S. companies and institutions are taking matters into their own hands. The companies include Alphabet, Walmart, and General Motors, while the environmental groups include the Rocky Mountain Institute, the World Resources Institute and the World Wildlife Fund.
The Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance aims to develop 60 GW of renewables by 2025, or about 6 GW of renewable energy per year until then. Bloomberg notes that is enough capacity to replace all the coal-fired power plants in the U.S. that are expected to retire within the next four years. Many companies in the alliance have already taken major steps by signing power purchase agreements for greener energy, but they say that isn't enough.
“Much of the activity so far has been in the form of PPAs and that’s an efficient way to secure renewable energy, but it’s challenging for small companies,” Brian Janous, director of sustainability at Microsoft, said on a conference call Thursday. “We have a long way to go, and the only way we’re going to get there is collaboration. We need utilities to come in as aggregators and provide new opportunities.”
Facebook aims to source 50% of its energy from renewables by 2018, said Bill Weihl, Facebook's director of sustainability.
"It’s about being responsible citizens,” Weihl said.“We want to invest in renewable energy in ways that are not just a marketing claim, but are really driving change on the grid.”
Letha Tawney of the World Resource Institute said U.S. companies find it difficult to source power from renewables, with only 13 states allowing large electricity buyers to source it freely, she told Financial Times.
Some utilities are answering the demand by major companies for renewables. Duke Energy recently rolled out its Green Source Rider program, which allows big private sector customers to contract with their utility over a three to fifteen-year term for the purchase of renewables-generated power at the standard retail rate, without imposing a shift of cost to other ratepayers. Google was its first customer. Nevada utility NV Energy also expanded its Green Source Rider program, which allows customers with 1 MW of demand or greater to source 50% or 100% of their electricity supply from solar energy.