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AEE report finds pro-renewables policies, states

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Honda, Microsoft lend support to report findings


Meister Consultants Group, an international sustainability consulting firm, today released a report outlining policy changes states can enact to expand corporate access to advanced energy – identifying 11 states with a strong corporate presence where one or more of the policies could create new opportunities for corporate competitiveness, the firm said this morning. The report focused on six policies to enable firms to purchase advanced energy and for each one, considers where these policies have the greatest potential to expand corporate access to advanced energy, it added.

The report assessed the regulatory and policy environment, potential market size for corporate purchases and renewable-energy potential of all 50 states, too. Titled, "Opportunities to Increase Corporate Access to Advanced Energy: A National Brief," the report was prepared for the Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) Institute, the nonprofit educational and charitable arm of the AEE, a national association of businesses working to make energy secure, clean and affordable, Meister said.

AEE's mission is to transform public policy to enable the rapid growth of advanced energy companies and the institute's mission is to raise awareness of the public benefits and opportunities of advanced energy, it added.

For many firms, the ability to control energy costs and sources is a key factor when deciding where to locate or expand their operations. Increasingly, companies are specifically seeking opportunities to purchase advanced energy – a choice often backed by an internal sustainability goal or renewable energy target, the firm said.

"Providing opportunities for companies to access advanced energy is a win-win for states," said AEE CEO Graham Richard, in prepared remarks. "Adopting policies like those outlined in this report signal to companies that the state is open for business. That will unleash private investment in new energy infrastructure and drive economic growth in the state."

"Expanding renewable energy is a top priority for Microsoft, and we're committed to using more clean energy every year," said Rob Bernard, chief environmental strategist at Microsoft, in prepared remarks. "That requires greater availability of renewable energy in the markets where we operate. With the proper policies to expand renewable energy options, our activities can speed the clean energy transition."

"As part of Honda's initiative to reduce its total impact on the environment, Honda is committed to the development and implementation of renewable energy projects throughout the company," said Steven Center, VP of environmental business development at American Honda Motor, in prepared remarks. "Honda became the first US automaker to utilize onsite wind power for a substantial portion of its energy use when two turbines began operation at Honda Transmission Manufacturing in Russells Point, Ohio.

"Similarly, a 1-MW AC solar photovoltaic system was installed at Honda's parts distribution center in Windsor Locks, Conn, to harness solar power for the facility. The company's commitment to renewable energy continues to be a driving force for the future," he added.

To put the market potential for corporate advanced energy purchases into perspective, if half of power demand from commercial and industrial customers nationally were met by renewable energy, this would drive development of nearly 450 GW of renewable energy – more than double current capacity nationwide and enough to power over 100 million houses, Meister said. But in many states, firms are restricted in their options to make these purchases.

The report outlined six policies for advanced energy, identifying the states with the largest corporate demand and strongest renewable resources in which the policies could expand options for corporate consumers.

Three of these policies let firms but power from large-scale, offsite advanced-energy projects and they include renewable-energy tariffs that let firms buy renewable energy that is competitively sourced by their utility. "Back-to-back" utility PPAs let the utility act as an intermediary between a customer and renewable-energy developer and direct-access tariffs let certain customers in traditionally regulated markets choose their power source, Meister said.

These policies open up purchasing options generally not available to companies located in vertically integrated states, it added.

The three other policies let firms access energy from DER: raising system size limits for programs that credit DG such as net metering, allowing third-party ownership of onsite generation systems and allowing virtual or aggregated metering to enable companies to benefit from distributed energy even when their needs are not met by a single onsite system at a single building.

While most states around the country currently have policies in place that support onsite or distributed advanced energy, not all of them are structured to enable the participation of larger corporate users – and these three policies can enable companies in particular to benefit from distributed resources.

After considering states' regulatory and political environments, 11 states stood out, Meister said. The report summarizes the top five for one or more of the policies profiled on the basis of its potential to increase corporate access to renewable energy.

Of these, 11 made the top-five list for one or more of the policies: Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio and Texas, it added. Applicable policy options for each state were listed in the executive summary of the report.

© 2016 Modern Markets Intelligence Inc.

IMPORTANT: This article was reproduced from the August 9, 2016, issue of Smart Grid Today with the limited permission of the owner. To view the full story on Smart Grid Today’s website, please visit http://www.smartgridtoday.com/members/AEE-report-finds-prorenewables-policies-states.cfm.