Major U.S. companies: We want more renewable energy

Are policymakers and utilities listening? U.S. businesses are joining the majority of Americans in saying “we want more renewable energy.”

12 leading companies, including General Motors, Walmart, Facebook, Bloomberg, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Johnson & Johnson, Mars, Novelis, Procter and Gamble, REI, and Sprint, have joined together to push for increased access to renewable energy, including wind power. Today, along with the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), these companies launched the Renewable Energy Buyers’ Principles to “better communicate their purchasing needs and expectations in the marketplace”  that will give them greater access to wind power and other forms of renewable energy.

In a press release revealing the Buyers’ Principles, the WWF’s senior vice president for private sector engagement Suzanne Apple had this to say about the announcement:  

“These companies are leading the market in creating demand for renewable energy. The Buyers’ Principles provide sound guidance to the market providers… Some of America’s largest companies are embracing renewable energy, and their collective demand requires the market to keep pace.”

And a blog today by Mary Spitzer, Director of US Climate and Renewable Energy Policy at WWF, underlines the difficulty that companies have experienced in gaining access to more renewable energy:

“In the process of switching to renewable energy, companies have gained a great deal of experience. Unfortunately, this transition hasn’t been easy. Utilities have been slow to respond to their major customers’ needs. When the companies bypass their utilities to purchase renewable energy elsewhere, they are having successes, but face complex deals and financing arrangements making it hard to buy renewables at the scale they need.”

“What do the companies want? The companies want utilities, utility regulators, and providers of renewable energy to understand that they have large demand for clean renewable energy. The system that exists now makes it difficult to meet their goals. But companies are willing, and in many cases would prefer to work with all these key players to make renewable energy available more quickly.”

The Renewable Energy Buyers’ Principles outline 6 criteria needed from the marketplace in order to meet customer needs and drive access to more renewables:

  1. Greater choice in procurement options
  2. More access to cost competitive options
  3. Longer- and variable-term contracts
  4. Access to new projects that reduce emissions beyond business as usual
  5. Streamlined third-party financing
  6. Increased purchasing options with utilities

The Buyers’ Group will expand as more companies recognize the need for market change to seize the opportunities around renewable energy.

Leaders of these companies explain why the release of the Buyers’ Principles is necessary:

Mars global sustainability director Kevin Rabinovitch: “Supplying renewable energy efficiently enables the scale of deployment necessary to achieve carbon neutral operations… The Renewable Energy Buyers’ 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.”

Sprint director of corporate responsibility and sustainability Amy Hargroves: “We know cost-competitive renewable energy exists but the problem is that it is way too difficult for most companies to buy… 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.”

Walmart senior director of energy David Ozment: “These Buyers’ Principles lay the groundwork for partnerships to help energy buyers like us go further faster…We know our company’s goal to be supplied by 100 percent renewable energy is good for business and good for the environment. If we can buy renewable energy for less, we can operate for less — and we can pass on the savings and a cleaner energy future to our customers and their communities. We hope others across the energy ecosystem will join us in making these principles a reality.”

Click here to see a full list of statements from the corporate signatories, including Bloomberg, General Motors, HP, Intel, and Johnson & Johnson.

Today's announcement continues a trend of major companies seeking more renewable energy. According to a recent report 43 percent Fortune 500 companies have already set climate and/or clean energy targets.

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