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[Episode #37] – Corporate Buyers of Renewables

Although it’s not widely talked about, one of the hottest sectors buying renewables now is the corporate sector. Fortune 500 companies are buying solar and wind power, and renewable energy credits, at a record pace. But why? What’s in it for them? What are the economic risks and rewards of going to the extra trouble to buy green power? How do arrangements like “virtual power purchase agreements” work? How do we manage balancing between wholesale markets in a future of strong interstate corporate procurement? And what’s the outlook for corporate buying of renewables? Our guest answers all of these questions and more in this wonkilicious episode, guaranteed to keep CFOs on the edge of their seats.

Geek rating: 6

Guest: Erin Craig is a Managing Director of Origin Climate, a San Francisco-based company that helps implement renewable energy and emission reduction projects to fight climate change. At TerraPass (now Origin Climate), Erin led the organization's expansion into carbon offset project origination and renewable energy services. Prior to that, she helped develop design standards for energy efficiency, hazardous constituents reduction, labeling, and end-of-life management at Sun Microsystems. She was a founding member of the IEEE's Electronics and the Environment task force and chaired the Electronic Industries Association’s Environmental Committee. In the early 1990s, Erin was responsible for eliminating ozone-depleting substances at Apple Computer. She has an MS in Technology and Policy from MIT, a BS in Geophysics from Stanford University, and a Six Sigma Master Black Belt from Sun Microsystems.

On the Web:

Recording date: February 1, 2017

Air date: February 22, 2017


Patrick Molloy, Scott Macmurdo, "Five Reasons Your Company Should Buy Off-site Renewables in 2017," RMI. (Feb 13, 2017)

Urs Hölzle, “We’re set to reach 100% renewable energy — and it’s just the beginning,” Google. (Dec 9, 2016)

Greenpeace’s “Click Clean” Report and Scorecard on renewable investments of Internet companies

Google white paper, “Achieving Our 100% Renewable Energy Purchasing Goal and Going Beyond” (Dec 2016)

Nicole Peill-Moelter, “Akamai will power internet with sun and wind,” GreenBiz. (May 11, 2016)

RMI’s Business Renewables Center

World Resources Institute, Emerging Green Tariffs in US Regulated Electricity Markets (Sep 2016)

RE100 press release: “RE100 Annual Report: corporate sourcing of renewables holds key to net-zero emissions economy” (Jan 17, 2017)

Dan Hernandez, “Las Vegas casinos seek to power their bright lights with renewable energy,” The Guardian. (Mar 16, 2016)

Sean Whaley, “MGM Resorts to leave Nevada Power, pay $86.9M exit fee,” Las-Vegas Review-Journal. (May 19, 2016)

David Iaconangelo, “Why a climate economist is giving carbon's 'social cost' a second look,” Christian Science Monitor. (Feb 1, 2017)

Mark Buchanan, “A Climate Change Economist Sounds the Alarm,” Bloomberg View. (Jan 31, 2017)

William D. Nordhaus, Projections and Uncertainties about Climate Change in an Era of Minimal Climate Policies, Yale University. (Dec 2016)

Sandeep Pai and Bilal Handoo, “Coal India raises doubts about its future,” Nikkei Asian Review. (Jan 31, 2017)

Hawaiian Electric press release, “Hawaiian Electric and Stem, Inc. successfully test 1 MW of energy storage at 29 commercial customer sites.” (Jan 30, 2017)

Tom Randall and Dana Hull, “Tesla’s Battery Revolution Just Reached Critical Mass,” Bloomberg. (Jan 30, 2017)