Washington state has become one of the first states in America to really champion the use of renewable energy. Businesses including Starbucks, Microsoft and REI are a handful of companies making huge commitments to using solar and wind energy to drive their operations.
Sixty-five firms have signed the Corporate Renewable Energy Buyers Principles, a collaboration of companies who have come together to deliver more affordable clean energy, and are committed to achieving cleaner energy production.
Washington’s large energy buyers “have found it difficult to access renewable energy because nearly all buyers must go through their utilities to buy energy”
According to the World Resources Institute (WRI), more than a dozen businesses use substantial energy in the state, and public sector energy users like King County and the Port of Seattle have also committed to renewable power.
Renewable energy is fast becoming a viable and reliable energy source across the United States. It’s an energy that has low production costs and is collected from renewable resources, which are naturally replenished on a human timescale, such as rain, wind, sunlight, waves, tides, and geothermal heat.
However, according to the WRI, Washington’s large energy buyers “have found it difficult to access renewable energy because nearly all buyers must go through their utilities to buy energy. Those utilities still use at least some fossil fuel-based sources.”
Utility-scale renewable energy is considered on a scale equal to 10 megawatts (MW) or larger, and powers sites using substantial amounts of energy output. This is the scale where businesses are finding it difficult to get approvals for total renewable energy.
“While some companies have added on-site renewables like solar photovoltaics (PV), it’s rarely enough to meet their total electricity needs. Companies therefore look to the grid and their electricity utilities, which are regulated by the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission,” WRI writes.
Puget Sound Energy (PSE) announced that it will meet some of those needs with Green Direct, by implementing a new renewable energy program, or green tariff. Green Direct’s first subscribers include “commercial customers (REI, Starbucks, Target), local governments (Anacortes, Bellevue, King County, Mercer Island and Snoqualmie) and local institutions (Western Washington University and Sound Transit).”
Green tariff subscriber programs have advantages that appeal to organizations right across America, from Fortune 500 companies and other large buyers because the utility subscriber projects are on a much larger-scale.
The WRI states that “customers of utility subscriber programs do not accrue a large bill credit for the power the project generates. In a subscriber program, customers pay for the power they use each month – at the cost of the renewable project – like customers accessing electricity from traditional power plants. This means that these projects are not subsidized by non-participating customers.”
As the ways in which renewable energy is delivered to customers diversifies and improves, there can only be gains made from renewable energy up and down the country. Renewable energy uptake is becoming widespread across the United States, and spreading further afield right around the globe. The costs are low and the resources are always available.