Large energy buyers want to work constructively with their utilities to reduce greenhouse gases (GHGs) through cost-effective renewable energy sources. They value the strengths that utilities bring to the partnership – low cost capital plus reliable and affordable energy procurement and delivery. Even the most energy-efficient “big box” stores with solar panels on their rooftop rely on the grid to meet a majority of their power needs. Data centers, with their massive energy footprint, need even more grid-connected energy to meet their clean energy targets.
Buyers’ Principles signatories engage on practical solutions with their utilities at the service territory level and through national associations like the Edison Electric Institute and the National Association of Regulated Utility Commissioners. By adding the buyer’s voice both to national discussions and in utility-specific conversations, more renewable energy approaches can be developed, utilities can incorporate customer demand as they plan for the U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan and other environmental rules, and successful models can be replicated. Together we can create new utility business models that reduce GHGs quickly, while maintaining system reliability, stability and affordability.
If you are interested in learning more about how we are engaging utilities and utility regulators, contact us!
Utility Leadership Forums
Through Utility Leadership Forums (half-day workshops), WRI, with support from WWF, is facilitating collaborative problem solving between utilities and a group of customers in their service territory. These substantive discussions seek innovative arrangements to deliver the renewable energy customers are looking for while providing value to the utilities under structures that regulators can approve. These new products and transactions are often pilots that can grow over time.
Solutions can go beyond utility-designed voluntary renewable energy products and strive for larger GHG reductions and benefits to the grid, including:
- Increased access to affordable renewable or low-carbon energy,
- Innovative strategies for managing customer load, and
- Customer provided ancillary or other reliability services.
Past Forums have led to:
- Customer/utility commitments to collaborate on developing innovative model products that regulators can approve, and to pilot these concrete approaches.
- Examples of regional “best practices” for simplifying access to low-cost, renewable energy options while conveying overall benefits to the grid.
- Lessons learned from the pilots, to be shared more broadly in national forums such as the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC), and the National Governors Association (NGA).
National Association Engagement
WWF, with support from WRI, is leading engagement between large customers and national associations such as EEI and NARUC to raise awareness about the scale of corporate demand for cost-effective renewable energy, the economic development opportunities it creates, and opportunities to collaborate on innovative frameworks and models that are applicable across jurisdictions.
A great example of this engagement between customers and utilities is a project between a group of Buyers’ Principles signatories and a task force of utility executives set up by EEI. Together, EEI and the customers have agreed to develop some products that aim to:
- Generate a deeper understanding of existing electricity products/transaction structures,
- Develop new, buyer-utility driven generic models that build and innovate on existing models that could be more flexible and replicable across regulated markets, and
- Based on those analyses, look for common ground that aligns buyer and utility efforts.