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green@work : Magazine : Back Issues : Nov/Dec 2003 : Frontlines

FRONTLINES

Businesses for Green Power
Corporate buyers help accelerate encouraging green power progress.

By Penny Bonda


In mid-September 2003, the World Resources Institute (WRI), an environmental think tank, issued notice of two achievements, both signifying encouraging progress toward green energy use. The first, released jointly by WRI and the 12 members of its Green Power Market Development Group, announced 97 megawatts (MW) of groundbreaking green power deals. The second revealed that WRI is now 100 percent powered by green energy, making it the largest environmental non-profit in metropolitan Washington, DC to use renewable energy.

Green power is broadly defined as energy coming from renewable sources such as solar, wind, water, biomass and geo-thermal. Conventional electricity production, from power plants that use oil, coal or nuclear, are significant contributors to air pollution while the environmental impacts from renewables is considerably lessened. Unfortunately, non-hydro sources of renewable electricity account for less than two percent of all U.S. electricity generation capacity.

Clearly any program that encourages the increased use of green power is commendable, especially one that brings together large corporate buyers whose influence will persuade other companies to diversify their energy portfolios. The members of the Green Power Market Development Group—Alcoa, Cargill Dow, Delphi, Dow Chemical, DuPont, General Motors, IBM, Interface, Johnson & Johnson, Kinko’s, Pitney Bowes and Staples—certainly have the necessary clout, and their newly announced deals are a good start toward reaching their eventual goal to create 1,000 MW of new green power by 2010. This is equivalent to one large coal-fired power plant or the power used by 750,000 homes.

In addition to the obvious global environmental benefits, green power can provide other benefits to businesses including reduced fuel costs by replacing natural gas with landfill gas, “peak-shaving” opportunities, hedges against fluctuating fossil fuel prices, and strengthening and improving stakeholder and customer relations. “The Green Power Group is beginning to make green power work for corporate buyers,” said DuPont’s chairman and CEO, Chad Holliday. “WRI has helped us find cost effective green power and proven that the marketplace has products to meet corporate energy and environmental goals.”

Those products include a wide variety of green power technologies that offer companies the best economic and environmental value. The recently announced 97 MW deals included the following purchases:

* renewable energy certificates (36 MW): Members of The Green Power Group purchased 36 MW of renewable energy certificates (RECs) from wind, biomass and landfill gas resources. This is the largest corporate purchase of RECs in the U.S. RECs represent the amount of pollution avoided when electricity is generated by renewable resources instead of by fossil fuels. DuPont and Staples were joined in this purchase by Alcoa, Cargill Dow, Delphi Corporation, Interface, Johnson & Johnson, Kinko’s, Pitney Bowes and the World Resources Institute.

* Hydrogen fuel cells (35 MW): The Dow Chemical Co. is purchasing 35 MW of hydrogen fuel cells from General Motors. This is the largest corporate fuel cell purchase in the world.

* Wind (15 MW): Johnson & Johnson is now one of the largest corporate users of wind power in the U.S., purchasing 11 MW of wind in Texas and on the East Coast. Kinko’s and IBM increased their use of wind power by four MW over the past year.

* Landfill gas (5 MW): Interface and General Motors will be using landfill gas as a green energy source at several manufacturing facilities.

* Other renewables (6 MW): Kinko’s is using electricity generated from biomass in Pennsylvania and from geothermal resources in California. Johnson & Johnson has expanded its on-site solar photovoltaic panel installations and is purchasing small-scale hydropower.

“From hydrogen fuel cells to solar panels on rooftops, new green power products are emerging for corporate markets,” said Jonathan Lash, WRI’s president. “These purchases help bring down prices, reduce pollution and build a robust market to deliver a clean energy future.”

WRI’s green power purchase demonstrates its own commitment to reducing its carbon dioxide emissions. WRI partnered with its landlord, the American Psychological Association (APA), and their property manager, the Trammell Crow Co., to purchase renewable energy equivalent to 75 percent of the electricity used in two Washington, DC, buildings. WRI, headquartered in one of the buildings, bought additional renewable energy to make its office 100 percent green. All of the purchases were made in the form of RECs. Green Mountain Energy Co. will supply WRI and APA with more than 20 million kilowatt hours of RECs from wind and other renewable resources. With 100 percent green energy, WRI’s annual greenhouse gas emissions will also be reduced by more than 40 percent—the equivalent of taking more than 3,700 cars off the road. The deal represents enough energy to power more than 1,800 homes annually.

“This purchase of green power helps WRI meet our public commitment to reduce our carbon dioxide emissions to zero by 2005,” said Lash. “We invite every landlord in metropolitan Washington, DC, to follow this example and let our capital serve as a national showcase of the benefits of green energy.”


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