Corporate buying drives renewables growth: NREL

by William Fleeson
Argus Media

Major companies were the main drivers of increased demand for renewable energy in voluntary markets last year, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

Much of this growth came in the form of power-purchase agreements (PPAs) between large corporate buyers and electricity suppliers. The trend has continued into 2016 and will likely extend into 2017, according to a new NREL report.

“I think it is significant that these corporations are starting to organize” their own renewable energy procurement, NREL economist Jenny Heeter said today at the Renewable Energy Markets 2016 conference in San Francisco, where she presented the findings of Department of Energy lab's analysis of 2015 data for clean-energy markets.

The PPA project pipeline surpassed 10mn MWh, with over half of that added in 2015, the report said. Corporate buying represented 15pc of total voluntary clean-energy sales last year, although many of those PPAs have not yet come on line, Heeter said. 

Companies such as Facebook, Amazon and Google have been among the major players, but they are not the only ones seeking renewable energy contracts, Heeter said. While the growth has been dominated by the tech sector, companies in the manufacturing, health care and entertainment industries have begun to adopt similar policies. The diversification of companies seeking clean-energy PPAs could help make the contracts a more standard practice.

The benefits of renewable energy PPAs for corporations include electricity price hedging, enhanced energy security and improved corporate reputation, the report said.

Other factors include attractive return on investment given that renewable energy costs have been falling rapidly, as well as the simpler goal to keep up with competitors, NREL said.

Heeter also cited the emergence of support from the government and non-profit sectors in encouraging corporate buying of renewable energy – and making sure the companies follow through on their commitments.

The US Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Partnership and the White House’s American Business Act on Climate Pledge have encouraged companies to use more clean energy, Heeter said. Non-profit programs like the Rocky Mountain Institute’s Business Center for Renewables and the group RE100 have also supported the trend, she said

Green-e creates product for federal buildings

by Stephanie Tsao
Argus Media

21 Oct 2015 09:00 (-05:00 GMT)

Washington, 21 October (Argus) — The Center for Resource Solutions (CRS) has launched a new product that power companies can use when selling renewable power to federal agencies or departments.

The Green-e Energy Federal products option certifies that renewable energy sold to federal agencies meets requirements set by an executive order that President Barack Obama issued this year requiring his administration to use more renewable energy and improve the energy efficiency of federal buildings. Agencies can meet the order's targets in a number of ways, including by using more renewable generation directly or by buying renewable energy certificates.

The new product requires energy retailers to report generation by fiscal quarter, instead of annually as with other Green-e certified products. The federal option would cover electricity generated in the 10 years prior to a reporting year.

The center unveiled the new federal product this week at the Renewable Energy Markets Association Conference, which it hosted this week in Arlington, Virginia.

The federal product takes "much of the guess work out of the procurement process, giving government buyers a clear path to meeting their renewable energy procurement goals, easing the procurement process, and reducing risk," CRS executive director Jennifer Martin said. 

Obama's executive order requires federal buildings in the US to get 10pc of their energy from renewables in fiscal years 2016 and 2017. The percentage rises by 5pc every two years and hits 30pc/yr in 2025 and after.

The CRS product ensures that the renewable energy purchased by federal agencies meets guidelines from the White House Council of Environmental Quality for meeting Obama's goals. The product also meets consumer protection standards under the Green-e program administered by CRS that verifies renewable energy and carbon reduction claims.


Send comments to

Request more information about Argus' energy and commodity news, data and analysis services. 

Copyright © 2015 Argus Media Ltd - - All rights reserved. 


New York picks APX to build renewables registry

by Stephanie Tsao
Argus Media

Washington, 21 October (Argus) — New York has contracted with APX to build a renewable energy credit (REC) tracking system for the state.

The system will track power generation attributes including RECs generated by projects qualified to meet the state's renewable targets.

Late last week, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, which administers the state's renewable portfolio standard, selected APX to build and administer the New York Generation Attribute Tracking System. The new system was discussed by a panel at the Renewable Energy Markets 2015 conference held this week in Arlington, Virginia, along with similar tracking systems used in PJM mid-Atlantic states and midcontinent states.

The system would track information about the renewable power produced within or imported into the state along with other types of generation resources. The system would allow for origination, certification, transfers, tracking and retirement of RECs.

The registry would start generating certificates next year and will issue RECs generated as of 1 January 2016. The system will also support import and export transactions with neighboring power regions such as NEPOOL and PJM, APX said.

Registry developer APX has worked on six North American generation information tracking systems. The systems are more prevalent as states and regions which share power distribution systems need to prevent multiple claims and double-counting of renewable power toward state goals. 

The system will help the state track its progress toward its renewable portfolio standard of having 30 percent of its annual power sales this year come from qualified renewables. It will also "enhance New York's renewables voluntary market," the New York authority's president and chief executive John Rhodes said.

Governor Andrew Cuomo's (D) 2015 energy plan sets greenhouse gas reduction and energy targets for 2030 including that half of the state's generation come from renewables.

APX and the authority plan stakeholder consultations to seek feedback on designing the system's operating procedures.


Send comments to

Request more information about Argus' energy and commodity news, data and analysis services. 

Copyright © 2015 Argus Media Ltd - - All rights reserved. 

EPA carbon rule could trim voluntary REC demand

by Stephanie Tsao
Argus Media

Washington, 20 October (Argus) — Federal regulations for CO2 emissions from power plants could curb demand for voluntary renewable energy certificates (RECs).

If states need to claim more emissions reductions for compliance with the US Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Clean Power, demand in the voluntary market could drop.

"I think the biggest factor in terms of how the Clean Power Plan might affect demand in the voluntary markets is the loss of what we call ‘regulatory surplus,' " said Todd Jones, senior manager of policy and climate change programs at the Center for Resource Solutions (CRS), during a panel discussion at the Renewable Energy Markets 2015 conference in Arlington, Virginia.

Regulatory surplus includes emissions cuts beyond that required by current programs that could result from renewable energy displacing fossil fuel generation. Those cuts would no longer be considered surplus if they are counted toward compliance with the Clean Power Plan. Jones authored a white paper on the subject CRS released on 16 October.

CRS manages the Green-e program, the largest program for voluntary RECs that businesses and individuals can buy to meet sustainability programs and other goals.

The Clean Power Plan could lead to new opportunities for REC trading as states update their policies in response to the rules. This could open new markets and create demand for solar power in southeastern states that have "pretty tight" targets, SunEdison director of federal policy Katherine Hamilton said. 

Renewable energy tracking systems may also need modification to account for a new compliance instrument known as an emission rate credit (ERC), which would be used in states that choose to meet CO2 rate targets, measured in lb/MWh, under the Clean Power Plan. States can also choose to meet a mass-based target, which is overall emissions measured in short tons.

Jones said there is a silver lining for voluntary RECs if states design their compliance plans to set aside ERCs or allowances to account for the benefits of voluntary purchases of renewable energy. The set-aside, similar to an element of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative carbon market in the northeast US, could maintain demand for voluntary RECs.

The Clean Power Plan, which the EPA finalized on 3 August, sets CO2 targets targets for states to achieve by 2030. States have until September 2016 to submit initial compliance plans to EPA, with final plans due by September 2018.


Send comments to

Request more information about Argus' energy and commodity news, data and analysis services. 

Copyright © 2015 Argus Media Ltd - - All rights reserved. 


DC wants Exelon, Pepco solar at wastewater plant

by Stephanie Tsao
Argus Media

19 Oct 2015 15:15 (-05:00 GMT)

Washington, 19 October (Argus) — The District of Columbia wants to install solar generation at a wastewater treatment plant as part of a deal to clear the way for Exelon to buy local utility Pepco.

The city wants half of the 10MW Exelon has agreed to build in the district located at the Blue Plains treatment plant, with the remaining 5MW spread among community, microgrid and other projects.

"We would like to put more renewable energy on our sewage-treatment plant so that we can eventually island it," District Department of Energy and Environment director Tommy Wells told Argus on the sidelines of the Renewable Energy Markets 2015 conference held in Crystal City, Virginia. Islanding the plant means it has the resources to operate in the event of a wider power outage.

The Blue Plains advanced wastewater treatment plant, located in the southern part of the district, produces 10MW of renewable energy from anaerobic digestion.

Exelon and Pepco Holdings have agreed to develop 10MW of solar in the city as part of a deal to win approval of their merger from district regulators, who initially rejected the deal in August. The city wants 5MW of the new capacity at Blue Plains, but may add more if that capacity is among the 10MW the utilities build, Well said. The plant's site can fit a total of 10MW of solar, Wells said.

Wells said he is still negotiating the projects but hopes to have more information within the next six to eight months.

Exelon and Pepco also agreed to buy 100MW of wind power each year as part of the deal.

The companies filed the updated agreement with the district Public Service Commission on 6 October, but the agency has yet to make a decision.

In addition, Exelon and Pepco would allot a total of $17mn for sustainability, including $3.5mn for a fund to support to support solar development in the district. Another $3.5mn would fund residential and commercial energy efficiency and renewable projects. Exelon would provide $10mn to the district's Green Building Fund to expand the use of clean energy and clean water.


Send comments to

Request more information about Argus' energy and commodity news, data and analysis services. 

Copyright © 2015 Argus Media Ltd - - All rights reserved.