Thu, Feb

Voluntary Green Power Purchasing up 1000 Percent in 5 Years; Large Corporate Purchasers Driving Growth

Renewable energy capacity in the United States supported by voluntary demand rather than regulatory requirements now tops 2200 megawatts (MW) – up more than 1,000 percent in just 5 years, according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Energy released at the Tenth National Green Power Marketing Conference in Austin, Texas.

AUSTIN, TX — Renewable energy capacity in the United States supported by voluntary demand rather than regulatory requirements now tops 2200 megawatts (MW) ”“ up more than 1,000 percent in just 5 years, according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) released at the Tenth National Green Power Marketing Conference in Austin, Texas. The report also notes that purchases by large businesses, institutions and governmental entities are driving the growth of the U.S. voluntary green power market.

Green power currently accounts for about 2 percent of America’s electricity supply, but voluntary purchasing of renewable energy is accelerating development of new renewable energy sources. The report, from DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), "Green Power Marketing in the United States: A Status Report," shows that renewable generating capacity in the United States installed to meet voluntary green power purchasing soared from 167 MW in 2000 to more than 2,200 MW by the end of 2004. The report is available at http://www.eere.energy.gov/gr eenpower/resources/pdfs/38994.pdf.

While the number of residential customers buying green power has more than doubled over the past 5 years, green energy purchases by large businesses and other U.S. organizations have increased dramatically. This is further illustrated by new data released today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Green Power Partnership. The Partnership, a voluntary program that encourages large organizations to switch to green power for a specified minimum portion of their annual electric usage, has grown from 21 Founding Partners in 2001 to over 600 Partners, including Fortune 500 companies, universities, trade associations, and local, state, and federal government agencies.

These Green Power Partners are collectively purchasing over 3.1 billion kilowatt hours of green power annually, a figure which has doubled over the past 15 months. This represents a growth of 1000 percent since the Partnership began in 2001 with Founding Partners purchasing 3.1 million kilowatt hours annually. Three billion kilowatt hours is enough electricity to power about 300,000 average American homes for a year, and is roughly equivalent to the annual output of a 1000 megawatt wind farm.

“Five years ago, the voluntary green power market was focused primarily on residential purchasers, and there were only a handful of significant non-residential purchasers,” said Douglas L. Faulkner, acting assistant secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at the U.S. Department of Energy. “The entry of commercial, industrial, and government purchasers into the renewable energy market has resulted in tremendous growth in the development of clean and limitless renewable energy resources.”

“Leading retailers, universities, manufacturers and federal agencies are demonstrating outstanding environmental leadership by choosing to purchase clean, renewable energy sources for their electricity,” said Kathleen Hogan, director of EPA’s Climate Protection Partnerships Division.

The new report also notes that over the past 5 years, average renewable energy price premiums for utility programs have declined at an annual average rate of 8 percent as wind-generated power becomes increasingly competitive against natural gas-fueled generation. In Colorado and in Texas, escalating natural gas prices have pushed electricity rates for regular utility customers higher than rates being paid by customers subscribing to green power options.

Leading purchasers

Johnson & Johnson

Johnson & Johnson is the largest U.S. corporate purchaser of renewable energy. The company has committed to reduce its carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions 7 percent below 1990 levels by 2010 in its quest to address the challenge of climate change. To achieve this goal, Johnson & Johnson is investing in green power as an alternative to fossil fuel energy. Johnson & Johnson's green power use in 2004 equaled 18 percent of its worldwide electricity use.

“Investing in green power not only benefits the environment, but is also a good business decision for Johnson & Johnson because it provides the company with a reliable and stable supply of energy,” said Dennis Canavan, executive director of worldwide energy management, Johnson & Johnson. “We are on track to reach our 2010 goal to reduce our carbon dioxide emissions seven percent below 1990 levels. We hope to see other large corporations institute similar environmental commitments.”

Safeway, Inc.

Safeway purchased enough renewable energy certificates (RECs) for all of the company’s U.S. fuel stations, its corporate and Northern California offices, and all 15 of its grocery stores in San Francisco. The purchase of 78,000 MWh of wind makes Safeway the first U.S. retailer to offset the electricity usage of all its fueling stations. Additionally, Safeway’s purchase of RECs for the company’s 15 San Francisco grocery stores makes Safeway San Francisco’s single largest purchaser of green energy and the second largest corporate green purchaser in the nation.

"Protecting the environment and conserving our nation's valuable energy resources is something that Safeway and our customers care deeply about," said Larree Renda, executive vice president, Safeway. "By powering our fuel stations, stores and corporate offices with wind energy, we are taking a leadership role in using cleaner sources of electricity."

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD)

AMD is the largest corporate green power purchaser in Texas and the fifth largest in the United States. AMD announced that it will tap renewable resources to power 100 percent of its twelve offices and the new AMD Austin Campus when it is completed in 2007. AMD’s utilization of renewable energy is illustrative of why its electric provider, Austin Energy, has had the leading utility-sponsored green power program in the nation in sales for the past three years.

“AMD was among the first companies to participate in Austin Energy's Green Choice program and is proud to rely exclusively on renewable energy for our Texas operations," said Craig Garcia, director of Global Corporate Resources, AMD. "Green energy consumption not only safeguards our environment by reducing the use of fossil fuels, but it's good for our business because it gives us a powerful tool to help manage our energy costs. We applaud Austin Energy and EPA for promoting green energy and we are hopeful that our continued collaboration will help stimulate the adoption of clean energy."

Harvard University

Eight of Harvard University’s schools and departments are now purchasing renewable energy—collectively accounting for nearly 22,000 MWh annually or 7 percent of Harvard’s total electricity usage. In an effort to make Harvard the nation's top university purchaser of renewable energy, Harvard President Lawrence H. Summers announced a new, 3 year dedicated renewable energy fund of $100,000 annually to promote the development of renewable energy on campus.

"Our support for renewable energy and green buildings affirms the University's commitment to developing and maintaining a campus that is beautiful, functional, and founded on sustainable principles," said Lawrence H. Summers, Harvard University President.

Whole Foods

Natural and organic foods supermarket Whole Foods Market is purchasing or generating more than 20 percent of its total national power load from green power sources annually. In California, Colorado, and New Mexico, Whole Foods Markets are 100 percent green-powered. Whole Foods Market also has solar panels at five stores in California and New Jersey.

"Central to Whole Foods Market's core values is caring about our communities and our environment, and this includes utilizing wise environmental practices such as purchasing renewable energy,” said Louis Karp, Whole Foods Market green mission task force regional director. "We strive to be a leader in environmental stewardship and plan to make green energy purchasing a priority."

Hyatt Regency Dallas & Hyatt Regency DFW

In June 2005, Hyatt Regency Dallas at Reunion and Hyatt Regency at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport announced the purchase of approximately 36,000 MWh annually from Green Mountain Energy. This purchase places the two Hyatt hotels among the Top 20 green power purchasers in the United States and the top five in Texas. As the largest national purchase of green power by a hotel property, this purchase represents a significant investment in renewable energy for an industry reaching thousands of potential clean energy consumers and business purchasers. Hyatt Regency Dallas is also the 10th largest U.S. corporate purchaser of renewable energy.

"Our green power purchase makes a public statement about our responsibility to be good community stewards, and it also sends a message to our hotel guests that protecting the environment is important,” said Steve Vissotzky, Hyatt Regency Dallas general manager. “Our purchase complements our existing sustainable business practices. We hope major corporations in Dallas and throughout the United States adopt more sustainable business practices such as purchasing green power.”


In August, Dallas-based Hillwood announced it was purchasing 100 percent renewable energy from Green Mountain Energy for Hillwood’s business parks in North Texas. The purchase encompasses more than a dozen developments, including the 17,000-acre AllianceTexas project. Hillwood is one of the largest real estate development companies in the country to be 100 percent green powered.

"Purchasing renewable electricity products from Green Mountain Energy Company is another way for Hillwood to help improve the quality of our environment,” said Ross Perot Jr., chairman of Hillwood. “With the open spaces, parks, trails, wetlands management and tree programs that we incorporate into our developments, Hillwood has a long history of taking care of the environment."

U.S. Government

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Federal Energy Management Program announced that the federal government is now purchasing over 2.5 percent of its electricity from renewable energy sources, reflecting successful achievement of a goal first articulated in Executive Order 13123 back in 1999, making the federal government the nation’s largest green power purchaser. The top three federal purchasers are the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. EPA and the U.S. DOE. Additional details are available from EPA’s list of the nation’s Top 25 green power purchasers at http://www.epa.gov/greenpower/partners/top2 5.htm.

More than 100 consumer products are now labeled with green power

The Center for Resource Solutions (CRS) announced that 115 consumer products are now "Made with Certified Renewable Energy" and labeled with the Green-e logo to designate their environmental advantage. Products including chips, juices, syrup, wine, fabrics, carpet, and paper products are being manufactured using Green-e certified renewable energy and now feature that information on their packaging. This represents a 65 percent increase over the past year in the number of product manufacturers communicating renewable energy commitments through on-packaging labeling featuring the nationally recognized symbol for renewable energy excellence ”“ the Green-e logo.

"Renewable energy use is the next generation of distinction for consumer products, taking its place alongside other consumer labels such as those for recycled products, organic content, and energy efficiency," said Jan Hamrin, president of the Center for Resource Solutions. "Product labeling by major U.S. corporations and product manufacturers brings renewable energy to the attention of millions of consumers."

About the National Green Power Marketing Conference

The National Green Power Marketing Conference, which is organized annually by DOE, EPA and the non-profit Center for Resource Solutions (CRS), reviews the status of green power marketing and explores strategies to increase the development of new renewable energy resources. Green power is electricity generated from environmentally- preferable renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, geothermal, biogas and low-impact hydro and biomass resources. These renewable energy sources are cleaner than conventionally generated electricity sources which rely on combustion of fossil fuel and create emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), a greenhouse gas linked to global warming. Additional conference information is available at http://www.eere.energy.gov/green power/conference/tenth.html.

About the U.S. DOE Green Power Network

The Green Power Network provides news and information on green power markets and related activities. The Network’s Web site provides up-to-date information on green power providers, product offerings, consumer protection issues, and policies affecting green power markets. It also includes a reference library of relevant papers, articles and reports. The Green Power Network is operated and maintained by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory for the U.S. Department of Energy. Additional information is available at http://www.eere.energy.gov/greenpower.

About the U.S. EPA Green Power Partnership

The Green Power Partnership is an EPA voluntary program working to standardize green power procurement as part of best practice environmental management. Partners in the program pledge to switch to green power for a specified minimum percentage of their electricity needs in return for EPA technical assistance and recognition. The Green Power Partnership currently includes more than 600 Partners, including Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, and universities. Additional information about the Green Power Partnership, including a full listing of all Partners and the Top 25 List, is available at www.epa.gov/greenpower.

About Green-e and the Center for Resource Solutions

The Green-e Renewable Energy Certification Program is the leading voluntary certification and verification program that sets standards for renewable electricity-based products in three markets for renewable energy: restructured, regulated, and renewable energy certificates (RECs). Nationally, Green-e certifies renewable energy products sold by over 100 marketers and utilities. To learn more about certified renewable energy available throughout North America, visit www.green-e.org, or call 1-888-63-GREEN. Green-e is a program of the Center for Resource Solutions (CRS), a national nonprofit working to build a robust renewable energy market by increasing demand and supply of renewable resources. CRS administers a portfolio of national and international programs in renewable energy. To learn more about CRS, visit http://www.resource-solutions.org.

Source: CSRwire, Green Power Marketing Conference