Quantcast

Fortune 500 Companies Unite in Support of Renewable Energy

Business

Q: What do Google, 223 other businesses, 14 attorneys general, 11 U.S. senators, and more than 25 environmental, public health and clean energy organizations all have in common?

A: They all told the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that renewable energy should play a strong role in reducing emissions from existing power plants under its proposed Clean Power Plan.

In fact, many of these groups explicitly endorsed the “Demonstrated Growth Approach” that the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) proposed in comments to the EPA, which would increase non-hydro renewable energy sources to 23 percent of U.S. electricity sales by 2030—or nearly double EPA’s proposed renewable energy target. Recent UCS analysis shows that achieving these levels is affordable and would result in additional reductions in U.S. power plant carbon emissions from EPA’s estimated 30 percent below 2005 levels to 40 percent. (For more details, see my October blog.)

IKEA has rooftop solar on 89 percent of its stores, including this store in Atlanta, GA, and meets more than one-third of its electricity needs with
renewable generation.

Google:  “EPA’s renewable energy goals are modest”

Google’s comments to the EPA called for stronger renewable energy targets, indicating that both of EPA’s approaches resulted in “modest” levels of renewable generation. Google also identified many of the same concerns with the EPA’s methodology that we highlighted in our comments, including:

  • Some states currently have more renewable generation than the EPA’s 2030 targets
  • The EPA did not fully capture future state commitments to renewables under existing laws
  • The EPA did not assume any increase in renewables between 2012 and 2017
  • The EPA’s alternative approach used static 2012 technology deployment rates that don’t capture future innovations or cost reductions
  • The EPA used outdated cost assumptions for renewables in their economic modeling

Because of these and other anomalies in EPA’s methodology, Google concluded:

For all these reasons, we believe EPA underestimates the demand and opportunity presented by renewable energy over the next 10-20 years. Accordingly, the renewable energy goals in the final rule should better account for the full range of renewable energy opportunities in states and, at the least, should certainly be no less stringent than the additions of generation already required.

Renewable energy “makes good business sense”

As a major user and investor in renewable energy, Google executives clearly know what they’re talking about. They have signed contracts for 1,040 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy—enough to provide 35 percent of Google’s electricity use in 2013, the equivalent of powering more than 300,000 U.S. households. Google’s long‐term goal is for renewable energy to provide 100 percent of their electricity needs. In addition to being a large consumer of clean zero-carbon electricity, they have invested more than $1.5 billion in 17 renewable energy projects that will add 2,500 MW of new capacity to the grid.

The main reason why Google is so bullish on renewable energy is because it’s good for their bottom line:

For example, using renewable energy helps Google diversify our power supply, provide protection against fuel price variability, and support business innovation and economic growth in the regions in which we operate. We are seeking affordable, reliable power that reduces our carbon footprint and meets the technology needs of our business … Today, renewable energy is more cost-effective in more regions of the country than ever before, and prices continue to decline.

Other Fortune 500 companies support a strong role for renewables

Like Google, 223 other businesses sent a letter to the EPA, emphasizing the important role that renewables and efficiency can play in reducing emissions and saving money as part of the Clean Power Plan. The letter was signed by 40 companies with over $100 million in annual revenues, including several Fortune 500 companies. This includes companies such as Kellogg’s, Starbucks, IKEA, Nike, Levi Strauss, Mars, and Nestlé that have recently made significant investments in renewables. For example:

  • Starbucks purchased more 50 percent of its electricity from renewable energy in 2011, and has a goal of 100 percent renewable energy by 2015.
  • Mars recently purchased a 200 MW wind farm in Texas that will generate enough electricity to make 13 billion Snickers bars, and provide 100 percent of their power.

Organized by the Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy (a project of Ceres) in coordination with CDP and the Climate Group, the letter stated:

Clean energy policies are good for our environment, the economy and companies. Increasingly, businesses rely on renewable energy and energy efficiency solutions to improve corporate performance and cut costs … 60 percent of the combined Fortune 100 and Global 100 companies have set a renewable energy goal, a greenhouse gas reduction goal or both. Today’s rules will help spur investment and provide the long-term certainty necessary for our businesses to thrive and to meet these goals.

U.S. senators propose improvements to the EPA’s renewable energy targets

On Dec. 9, eleven U.S. Senate Democrats from California, New Jersey, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Maryland, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont sent a letter to the EPA calling for stronger renewable energy, energy efficiency and state emission reduction targets:

For the Clean Power Plan to be a success, it must achieve the level of emission reductions that the science calls for to avoid the most dangerous impacts of climate change. Maximizing the deployment of cost-effective renewable energy and energy efficiency will be the key to achieve the necessary emissions reductions.

Read page 1

State Attorneys General support UCS approach for strengthening the EPA’s renewable targets

In addition to supporting the EPA’s legal authority to regulate carbon emissions from existing power plants under section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act, the Attorneys General from 12 states (California, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington), Washington DC and New York City also specifically endorsed our approach for strengthening the renewables building block:

Other methodologies for determining potential renewable generation on a state-by-state basis, such as that proposed by the Union of Concerned Scientists, have confirmed that increased renewable generation is feasible and cost effective at even higher rates of adoption than projected by EPA … Thus, the States prefer an approach to the renewable energy building block that results in a target that aggressively captures the technical feasibility and market potential of renewable energy. Based on such an approach, the States also believe that there is a demonstrated basis for strengthening state-specific targets for some states.

Clean energy, public health, and environmental organizations support UCS approach

More than 25 national and state non-profit organizations also supported the UCS Demonstrated Growth approach and several other options for strengthening the renewable energy targets in their comments to the EPA. This included major renewable energy business groups like the American Wind Energy Association, Solar Energy Industries Association and Advanced Energy Economy. It also included public health and environmental justice groups like the U.S. Climate & Health Alliance and WE ACT for Environmental Justice, and consumer groups such as Public Citizen, Consumer Action and Ohio Partners for Affordable Energy.

In addition, many national, regional, and state environmental organizations supported our approach and other alternatives, such as the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, Environmental Defense Fund, Environmental Law and Policy Center in Chicago, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, Southern Environmental Law Center, several Minnesota organizations and Utah Clean Energy.

Next steps for the EPA

As the EPA weighs the millions of comments it received on the Clean Power Plan, this diverse and comprehensive support sends a strong signal to the EPA to strengthen the state renewable energy and emission reduction targets when the final rule is released next June.

When combined with stronger targets for energy efficiency, renewable energy allows states to affordably deliver the much deeper emission reductions that are needed to avoid the worst consequences of climate change.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Richard Branson and Amory Lovins Join Forces to Accelerate Clean Energy Revolution

Obama Permanently Protects Alaska’s Bristol Bay From Oil and Gas Development

Top 10 Universities Taking the Lead on Sustainability

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A verdant and productive urban garden in Havana. Susanne Bollinger / Wikimedia Commons

By Paul Brown

When countries run short of food, they need to find solutions fast, and one answer can be urban farming.

Read More Show Less
Trevor Noah appears on set during a taping of "The Daily Show with Trevor Noah" in New York on Nov. 26, 2018. The Daily Show With Trevor Noah / YouTube screenshot

By Lakshmi Magon

This year, three studies showed that humor is useful for engaging the public about climate change. The studies, published in The Journal of Science Communication, Comedy Studies and Science Communication, added to the growing wave of scientists, entertainers and politicians who agree.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
rhodesj / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Cities around the country are considering following the lead of Berkeley, California, which became the first city to ban the installation of natural gas lines in new homes this summer.

Read More Show Less
Rebecca Burgess came up with the idea of a fibersheds project to develop an eco-friendly, locally sourced wardrobe. Nicolás Boullosa / CC BY 2.0

By Tara Lohan

If I were to open my refrigerator, the origins of most of the food wouldn't be too much of a mystery — the milk, cheese and produce all come from relatively nearby farms. I can tell from the labels on other packaged goods if they're fair trade, non-GMO or organic.

Read More Show Less
A television crew reports on Hurricane Dorian while waves crash against the Banana River sea wall. Paul Hennessy / SOPA Images / LightRocket / Getty Images

By Mark Hertsgaard and Kyle Pope

Some good news, for a change, about climate change: When hundreds of newsrooms focus their attention on the climate crisis, all at the same time, the public conversation about the problem gets better: more prominent, more informative, more urgent.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Mike Braun (R-Ind.) met with Bill Gates on Nov. 7 to discuss climate change and ways to address the challenge. Senator Chris Coons

The U.S. Senate's bipartisan climate caucus started with just two members, a Republican from Indiana and a Democrat from Delaware. Now it's up to eight members after two Democrats, one Independent and three more Republicans joined the caucus last week, as The Hill reported.

Read More Show Less
EPA scientists survey aquatic life in Newport, Oregon. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to significantly limit the use of science in agency rulemaking around public health, the The New York Times reports.

Read More Show Less
A timelapse video shows synthetic material and baby fish collected from a plankton sample from a surface slick taken off Hawaii's coast. Honolulu Star-Advertiser / YouTube screenshot

A team of researchers led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration didn't intend to study plastic pollution when they towed a tiny mesh net through the waters off Hawaii's West Coast. Instead, they wanted to learn more about the habits of larval fish.

Read More Show Less