In July, CustomerFirst Renewables was proud to sponsor the Association of Climate Change Officers (ACCO) Eastern Conference in Arlington, Virginia. CFR founder and CEO Gary Farha led a panel with Boston non-profit A Better City, The George Washington University, and the Rocky Mountain Institute’s Business Renewables Center. The focus of this panel was on large scale renewable energy procurement and the power of aggregation.
For many organizations who rely on resilient, cost-attractive energy, green options seem out of reach. Seeing green energy as unattainable usually comes from two different assumptions:
- Renewable energy, while good for the environment, requires a cost premium.
- Only the largest organizations can negotiate viable renewable energy solutions.
At ACCO, we sought to debunk these myths and share the opportunities we currently see in the market.
One great example of organizations joining together is A Better City. This Boston-based non-profit is a business member organization, aiming to improve Boston through collaboration among the business community. A Better City noted that while larger organizations were a part of the aggregation, a small business was also able to secure affordable, renewable energy – something seemingly impossible had the company tried going solo.
Another key benefit of aggregation all panelists highlighted was the change management component of switching to renewable energy. Getting grid power through a utility is often a short-term consideration. However, the organizational complexity of implementing a 15-25 year power purchase agreement brings a significant challenge for organizations to solve alone.
There is strength in numbers. George Washington University, one of the key participants in the DC-based â€˜Capital Solar Partnersâ€™ Project, spoke to this partnership component noting that â€œdoing it alone can be scary, which was one reason we opted for aggregation…we knew that we could hold each other accountable and support each other through the process.”
Lily Donge, Principal at Rocky Mountain Institute’s Business Renewables Center (BRC), emphasized this shared benefit, â€œconfidence and trust are the key components of any successful aggregation.”
Even though the market is offering incredible opportunities for companies to cut costs and greenhouse gas emissions, many organizations are slow to test the waters. Lily Donge and the BRC hope that their organization can continue to encourage an uptick in renewable adoption rates. â€œDespite the great growth of renewable energy over recent years, we have so much more room to grow.”
Looking at future cost curves of grid power, finding an aggregation partner to maximize the returns of renewable energy is a significant cost management opportunity and helps mobilize resources collectively.