WRI’s U.S. Energy Team works with utilities and relevant stakeholders to identify and implement pathways toward grid decarbonization. This includes support for the development of utility clean energy product offerings for large customers like cities and corporations; addressing barriers to clean energy adoption in utility long-term planning; and accelerating transportation electrification strategies, such as deployment of electric school buses. This includes both grid infrastructure challenges as well as development of customer-facing programs, incentives and tiered electricity rates that can accelerate decarbonization.

Utility Clean Energy Products for Large Buyers

WRI has facilitated dialogues between utilities and large energy buyers (such as local governments and corporations) to help design and scale utilities’ clean energy products that meet those buyers’ needs. This has included our work on 24/7 carbon-free energy (CFE) solutions and utility green tariffs.

24/7 Carbon-Free Energy Solutions

WRI partnered with the Institute for Electric Innovation (IEI) to explore how to design new utility 24/7 CFE products that are more widely accessible to customers. The small group of utilities and customers explored customer preferences for product offerings, preferred resources, data needs and utility and regulatory challenges in scaling 24/7 CFE products.

Learn more in the report: Designing 100 Percent Carbon-free Energy Solutions: Preferences, Challenges, and Pathways Forward

Utility Green Tariffs

Green tariffs are a renewable energy solution in regulated electricity markets that allows customers to access clean power more easily. A green tariff is a price structure, or an electricity rate, offered by a local utility and approved by the state’s Public Utility Commission that allows eligible customers to source up to 100% of their electricity from renewable resources. Starting in 2017, WRI began compiling information on utility green tariff programs available across the United States in order to help more large customers access renewable energy. This work became part of the Clean Energy Buyers Association (CEBA) in March 2019 to support large-scale corporate access to renewables.

For more information and data, visit the WRI green tariffs webpage and CEBA website.

Clean Energy in Integrated Resource Planning

WRI has developed resources exploring how clean energy can be better represented in utility long term planning, or Integrated Resource Planning (IRP). Some of these resources are intended to help local governments and other stakeholders understand how they can engage more actively in IRP proceedings and make clean energy adoption a higher priority in these processes.

WRI has also worked with local governments in several regions across the country to support utility engagement, including in North Carolina, where 15 local governments participated in the IRP process for their electric utility.


Utility Engagement on Electric School Buses and Transportation Electrification

WRI works with utilities, school districts and other stakeholders to address challenges associated with deploying electric buses (ESBs). The ESB Initiative’s Utility Working Group is primarily comprised of electric utilities, along with other key stakeholders, working collaboratively to drive the development and implementation of successful ESB programs, rates, models and grid investments needed to enable electrification.


City-Utility Partnership Agreements

WRI convenes cities, utilities and other stakeholders to explore ways they can further shared climate and clean energy goals, including the development of city-utility partnership agreements. These agreements provide an opportunity to go beyond the traditional corporate/client relationship in order to align and achieve specific climate and energy goals. Based on lessons learned from these convenings in states such as North Carolina and Montana, WRI has published resources to help cities and utilities develop formal partnership agreements that build and strengthen local relationships, improve communication and utility planning, and more.


Clean Power Council

The Special Clean Power Council (CPC) was a two-year initiative which ran from 2018 to 2020. The council, comprised of leading U.S. electric utilities and major commercial and industrial customers representing an array of sectors, drove innovation to achieve an economic and efficient transition to clean energy resources. The council focused on large-scale clean energy solutions that reduce emissions, including renewable energy procurement innovations, electric vehicles and incorporating customer demand in utility asset planning. As a result of the initiative, mutually beneficial solutions are now available to regulators and policymakers across the United States.

CPC members included: Adobe, American Electric Power, American Honda Motor Co., Berkshire Hathaway Energy, Best Buy, Consumers Energy, General Motors, IBM, Levi Strauss & Co., Southern Company, Target, Tennessee Valley Authority, Walmart and Xcel Energy.

For more information and resources, visit the CPC webpage.

Cover image by American Public Power Association / Unsplash