Smart Energy Decisions: How to Get Utilities and Regulators to Provide Renewable Energy Options that Work for Your Company

Posted by Caitlin Marquis on May 10, 2019

Smart Energy Decisions published an article by AEE's Caitlin Marquis about ways corporate buyers can work with utilities, regulators and state officials to shape renewable energy program offerings with appeal to meet their sustainability goals. The piece draws from a recent report by AEE's Advanced Energy Buyers Group, "Renewable Energy Offerings that Work for Companies: A Practical Guide to Meeting Corporate Renewable Energy Demand in Vertically Integrated Markets," highlighting a six-step process to engage key players. See excerpts below and the entire SED article here and the related AEE webinar here.

Energy procurement and sustainability teams tasked with meeting corporate renewable energy targets are all too familiar with the fact that doing so is much easier in some states than in others. Specifically, in states that lack retail choice, and especially in states that are not part of an organized wholesale market, customers rely on either policy changes or the introduction of utility programs to make progress on their renewable energy goals. That means customers can wait for change – or work to make it happen.

If you pick the latter, a pragmatic guide from the Advanced Energy Buyers Group, a business-led coalition of large energy users, provides a roadmap for action. The guide, Renewable Energy Offerings that Work for Companies: A Practical Guide to Meeting Corporate Renewable Energy Demand in Vertically Integrated Markets, is intended for states or utilities to follow as they consider new renewable energy options.

But it’s vital for customers to get engaged to make sure the outcomes work for them.

“You want to get...a solution that the utility will offer, one that regulators will approve, and something that customers will buy,” said Steve Chriss, Director of Energy and Strategy Analysis at Walmart, on a recent Advanced Energy Economy webinar. “A lot of times, when green tariffs get filed they’re solutions that utilities will offer and solutions that regulators will approve. We get involved to get to solutions that customers will buy...”

[The piece offers a corporate customers a six-step process to support – or prod – regulators and utilities to give them access to renewable energy resources they seek:]

  • Step One: Seek advice and input from customers, industry, and other states. Customers don’t have to wait until they’re asked to make their feelings known. Instead, they can make the ask. This can be done through one-on-one discussions with utilities, legislative engagement, or regulatory proceedings such as utility integrated resource planning (IRP). 
  • Step Two: Determine which approaches align best with your state and utility circumstances. As customers, you can familiarize yourselves with the unique circumstances of the state and utility to understand potential opportunities and limitations and to know how to work flexibly within them. For example: How are rates structured? Is the state part of an organized wholesale market? How would new renewable energy assets fit into the state’s existing resource mix? What is the timing for important utility proceedings, such as upcoming rate cases or IRP proceedings? ... 

Read the entire SED article describing all six steps here; watch the archived AEE webinar here with experts from Walmart and Salesforce; and see the related AEBG report here.

Topics: AEE In The News