WRI brings U.S. companies seeking more renewable energy together with traditional, coal-intensive electric utilities to jointly advance new, cost-effective renewable energy generation. Since 2015, businesses working with WRI have contracted more than 450 megawatts of new solar generation through regulated utilities in Nevada and North Carolina – equivalent to taking 120,000 cars off the road.

The Challenge

Corporate demand for renewable energy is a central driver of clean energy growth in the United States. In 35 states, electricity customers must buy power through their local utility, so companies cannot purchase local renewable energy unless their utility offers it. Companies are setting ambitious renewable energy targets and considering the ease of purchasing renewable energy when deciding where to locate new facilities.

WRI’s Role

WRI helps utilities meet corporate demand for new renewable energy without impacting other customers. WRI’s Charge team brings together regulated coal-intensive utilities – often in politically conservative states with limited clean energy requirements – with their largest customers to agree on optional rates for renewable energy, called green tariffs. WRI provides feedback to utilities on green tariff proposals to help make them attractive to regulators and corporate electricity buyers.

In partnership with other NGOs, WRI amplifies the collective voice of large buyers through the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA), a coalition to empower multinational companies to transform electricity systems by cost-effectively scaling up renewable energy. WRI also created the Corporate Renewable Energy Strategy Map, which shows states where companies can more easily meet their clean energy goals. Utilities and states actively seek to be included on the map and frequently ask about creating green tariffs as a means to attract economic development.

The Outcome

Major utilities are creating voluntary programs to rapidly expand access to new renewable energy for their largest customers. Since 2015, green tariffs at monopoly, coal-intensive utilities have led to contracts for 450 megawatts of new solar energy capacity, which will help utilities annually avoid over half a million tons of carbon dioxide emissions – comparable to taking 120,000 passenger vehicles off the road. Contracts for an additional 500 megawatts of new solar energy are under negotiation, and more utilities are now replicating green tariffs.

By creating access to renewable energy for companies and aligning the interests of utilities with their customers, WRI and REBA partners are moving the conversation beyond politics, creating bipartisan support for measures that contribute to local economic development, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and cleaner air.