Published on April 21st, 2019 |
by Tina Casey
April 21st, 2019 by Tina Casey
Leading US corporations have been hopping on the renewable energy bandwagon to save big bucks, despite a lack of support from the current occupant of the Oval Office. The good news is that the Energy Department is still chugging merrily along on its clean power mission, which includes support for businesses that want to get their hands on more wind and solar power.
The latest development involves some behind-the-scenes stuff that sailed under the CleanTechnica radar. It also involves two of our favorite topics: Texas and Texas.
Smart Energy Decisions & The DOE
CleanTechnica has been tracking DOE’s renewable energy activity through its public announcements, and you can, too! But, did you know that the agency also supports an online resource guide for commercial and industrial electricity users called Smart Energy Decisions?
If you did, run right out and buy yourself a cigar. The rest of us need a quick course on this thing called Smart Energy Decisions. Here’s the mission statement:
…We deliver news, analysis, research and opinion to help our readers make better decisions. Our goal is to serve as a catalyst for change in support of the dramatic energy transformation taking place in the electric power market impacting C&I customers, utilities and suppliers.
Ya don’t say! That all sounds source neutral but take a look at the website’s lineup of content partners. For starters, DOE provides content to its Better Buildings Initiative, a clean power and energy efficiency program. Among other resources, Better Buildings offers a “Renewables Integration Technology Research Team” to advise businesses on, what else, renewable energy integration.
Better Buildings is gearing up for a two-day summit in July that will “explore emerging technologies and share innovative strategies in energy and water efficiency.” It’s a safe bet that clean power is in the mix: one of the breakout sessions is something called, “How to Achieve High Renewable Energy Goals.”
Renewable Energy Partners & DOE
DOE sure has some interesting company over at Smart Energy Decisions. Two other content partners are the Environmental Defense Fund and the powerful green investor group Ceres.
Then there’s something called the Institute for Market Transformation. IMT is a Green New Deal-ish nonprofit that has been advocating for greener buildings and economic development for more than 20 years. In 2014, the organization won a million-dollar, four year award from DOE for a data collection initiative aimed at energy efficiency improvements.
Rounding out the list of contributors is the EPA’s Energy Star program, which is still soldiering on its energy efficiency mission despite a series of unfortunate events concerning EPA leadership.
Renewable Energy For Everyone (In Texas)
If you’re wondering where Texas comes into the picture, wonder no more. Smart Energy Decisions took note last year when the Texas-based software company Intuit (you know, the Turbo Tax people) launched a new clean power program that lets individual ratepayers in Texas piggyback on the company’s relationship with the Lone Star II wind farm.
It look like the program, called Purely Green, is a success. It garnered a 2019 Innovation Award from Smart Energy Decisions.
The recognition is significant because Purely Green resolves a major hurdle for small scale renewable energy purchasers: cost. Utilities typically offer clean power to individuals and small scale ratepayers at a premium, on an opt-in basis. When they do opt in, they are still getting a grid mix that can include copious amounts of coal and natural gas.
Purely Green enables practically anyone (well, anyone in Texas) to do what leading US corporations are doing: nail down clean power discounts and lay claim to a specific clean power project, to boot.
A company called RDP Energy created Purely Green for Intuit and the energy retailer Just Energy. According to RDP, the program offers “100% physical green energy at an affordable price competitive with equivalent brown power offerings.”
On its part, Intuit gets the actual, physical wind energy from a local wind farm plus renewable energy certificates, balancing, and load shaping for its headquarters in Plano.
White House Or Not, Intuit Hearts Renewable Energy
After the Commander-in-Chief* pulled out of the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, leading US businesses stepped up to hold the torch for climate action.
Intuit is a good example. In an email last week, the company reminded CleanTechnica that it set three ambitious climate goals back in 2016: 100% renewable electricity, 80% reduction in carbon footprint at its facilities, and 50% reduction in total operational carbon footprint.
According to Intuit, the milestones are falling much more quickly than anticipated. The company is on track to meet its 2016 goals six years ahead of its initial projections.
In addition to purchasing clean power, Intuit deploys carbon offsets through Project Drawdown, with a focus on habitat preservation, small businesses, women entrepreneurs, and community conservation programs.
Intuit also underscores how leading businesses are sticking with the global consensus on climate science, including the IPCC updates. It is one of more than 545 companies that have committed to the Science Based Targets Initiative, which is a project of CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project), the UN Global Compact, WRI (that’s the World Resources Institute) and WWF.
Last month, Science Based Targets raised the bar to account for the latest IPCC report. The organization warned participants that it will no longer accept company targets that merely meet the 2°C warming scenario.
As of this October, Science Based Targets will only validate pathways that “are consistent with limiting warming to well-below 2°C or 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.”
It looks like Intuit and hundreds of other US businesses are going to ratchet up the speed on climate action, regardless of the hot air emanating from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
As for why Texas is two of our favorite topics, here’s a hint: a 100% renewable city, wind farms, more wind farms, transmission lines, a solar powered electricity island, and energy storage. And algae, to boot.
CleanTechnica is reaching out to Science Based Targets for some insights regarding how it anticipates business will respond to the new goals, so stay tuned for more on that score.
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Photo: Lone Star Wind Farm via EDP Renewables.