Green power usage climbs among major U.S. corporations
With over 600 U.S. companies now using green power resources to meet their electricity needs, companies today are becoming more aware about limiting their carbon footprint. In fact, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Green Power Partnership (GPP) released its latest report last month, listing a wide variety of U.S. organizations from across the country who meet 100 percent of their electricity needs from green power. The list includes both large public and private-sector organizations – from The World Bank Group (wind) and Intel Corporation (biogas, solar and wind) to the National Hockey League (wind), Pearson (geothermal) and the Empire State Building (wind). All together, these companies used a total of nearly 12 billion kilowatt-hours of green power last year– that’s enough energy to eliminate CO2 emissions from the electricity use of over 1 million average American homes each year. Qualification standards for companies participating in the GPP are set based on the percentage of electricity the organization uses from green power sources, such as solar, wind, geothermal, and biogas. Each company’s qualifying percentage is set based on its total annual energy use. Since 2001, over 1,300 organizations have joined the GPP.
Besides the environmental benefit, green power purchases have made an economic impact as well, creating thousands of jobs for workers needed to manufacture and operate new technologies used in renewable energy generation. For example, wind energy production has spurred manufacturing jobs in the Rust Belt region as developers turn abandoned factories into manufacturing facilities. In turn, these new businesses require help with sales, marketing and administrative duties that create additional positions to fill.
Electricity generated from conventional fossil fuel sources is one of the main contributors of greenhouse gas emissions by U.S. companies, making emissions-free electricity like wind, solar and geothermal power all the more vital in order to combat climate change. While the costs of purchasing green power can vary depending on geographic location and resource availability, many states provide tax credits and subsidies to companies utilizing clean energy, including exemptions from property tax and mandated purchases. Furthermore, since energy sources like solar and wind do not require fuel inputs to operate, there is little price fluctuation over time, meaning companies using green power can usually lock in supplies at a fixed cost over a long period of time. THE GPP has also created the Green Power Locator that offers an overview of the green power market, identifies where to purchase supplies, and provides other options for developing on-site clean energy generation.
About the Author
Molly Lovelette is an Assistant Vice President at William Gallagher Associates in the Property and Casualty Group, with a specialized focus in Energy and Construction accounts. She serves the day-to-day needs of numerous energy-related clients, including independent power producers, owner-operators and manufacturers in the wind, solar, landfill gas, waste-to-energy and fossil fuel industries.