Renewable Energy Advisors
CustomerFirst Renewables can help your organization switch to clean, zero-emission solar and wind energy while minimizing risk and maximizing economic benefits.
Why Switch to Solar or Wind Energy?
The first step corporations and other large energy buyers take on their climate journey is usually to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from their electricity use. These emissions often make up a large percentage of an organization’s carbon footprint, so switching to solar or wind energy means swift and significant progress towards climate goals.
The economics can be favorable. The renewable energy marketplace has matured significantly over the past 10 years, making it possible to switch to clean, renewable energy with savings as compared to business as usual and without major capital expenditures.
Reducing or eliminating electricity emissions can build an organization’s confidence that it can set more ambitious climate targets or begin addressing other areas of emissions that are harder to tackle, such as direct emissions or supply chain emissions.
Despite its advantages, switching to wind or solar energy represents the biggest departure from existing energy purchasing practices most organizations will likely ever experience. Large energy buyers must adopt a new approach to energy supply management.
Understanding Electricity Markets
Electricity markets in the United States are complex and have been shaped by a patchwork of state, regional, and federal policies and rules. If you buy electricity in the United States at a commercial scale, it can help to understand how wholesale and retail markets work.
Competitive Wholesale Electricity Markets
The United States has seven regional wholesale electricity markets. They are managed by entities called independent system operators (ISOs) or regional transmission organizations (RTOs), which usually span multiple states and are therefore regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
Power generators compete in these markets by producing electricity and bidding for the right to sell into the grid.
Some areas of the US fall outside of these regional markets. In those areas, utilities own and operate all electricity generation.
Deregulated and Regulated Retail Electric Markets
Your retail electricity options depend on whether your operations lie within a state with regulated or deregulated retail electricity markets. In a deregulated state, you can choose among multiple retail electricity suppliers. In a regulated state, you may only purchase electricity through your utility.
Regardless, you can tap into the renewable energy market, using different approaches. Read our blog for more about the difference between deregulated and regulated electricity markets and what it means for renewable energy procurement.
Electricity Markets Abroad
Electricity markets outside the United States have unique features, but high-level market design concepts are typically similar. Our renewable energy experts can help you understand and navigate international electricity markets while drawing on deep experience with universal best practices.
Your Renewable Energy Options
The good news is that your organization has good options for buying renewable energy regardless of where its facilities are located. But making the best choice means understanding your options and their trade-offs.
In deregulated retail states, you can procure renewable energy directly from a retail supplier. You may also be able to participate in a community solar program if your state allows it.
In regulated retail states, you are stuck with what your utility offers—but many utilities have created green tariffs and other programs that allow customers to buy renewable energy.
In any state, you could install solar panels directly on your facilities, but the best way to procure (leasing the system, purchasing the system, or purchase the output of the system) depends on where your facilities are located.
Given these complexities, one of the most popular options to date is to skip over the retail market altogether and sign a power purchase agreement (PPA) directly with a renewable energy project developer who sells electricity into the wholesale market.
Advisory Services for Renewable Energy Procurement
CFR can meet your organization wherever it is in its renewable energy procurement journey.
Maybe your organization maintains facilities in a complex state or across many states, or your organization just cannot decide between the several renewable energy solution options available to it. CFR can help by:
- Profiling your organization’s current energy situation (i.e., “business as usual”) given its current electric load profile and costs
- Educating, engaging, and aligning key stakeholders for a renewable energy procurement
- Assessing your renewable energy options and the many inherent tradeoffs (e.g., expected savings, market risk and volatility, project location, development risk, counterparty risk, quality of environmental attributes, etc.)
- Developing a recommended renewable energy procurement strategy for a standalone or portfolio of renewable energy solutions.
- Defining an implementation plan
Whether or not we developed the strategy with you, we can run a smooth procurement process for you. CFR can help by:
- Designing and issuing a custom request for proposals (RFP) or identifying best-fit renewable energy projects via CFR’s quarterly Market Pulse process
- Performing economic modeling, risk analyses, counterparty assessments, and project development due diligence to support your selection of shortlist and finalist projects
- Supporting negotiations with an awardee
- Preparing your organization for an operational renewable energy project
Management and Optimization
Once a project is operating, CFR can continue to support your organization on its long-term contract by:
- Identifying opportunities to improve economic performance (monetizing additional products, integrating wholesale and retail purchases, etc.)
- Tracking project performance and auditing monthly settlement invoices
- Supporting the registration and tracking of renewable energy certificates (RECs)
- Monitoring key contractual covenants and terms
- Updating future financial forecasts for the renewable energy project
What Makes Us Unique
Procuring renewable energy is not a short or easy process. A successful transaction goes much further than simply finding the most competitive price. Buyers will face obstacles both inside and outside their organization.
You will need a team that can help you successfully navigate ongoing changes in supply and demand, legislation, trade policy, rulemaking, market structures and enabling systems, and more.
CFR’s key differentiators include:
- A core focus on stakeholder engagement and organizational change management, particularly early in the process, that significantly boosts the chances of successful project execution
- The ability to provide a consistent, objective assessment of all available renewable energy solution options, with zero biases or hidden interests
- An understanding of renewable energy projects’ unique development risks and knowledge of how to side-step common pitfalls
Given the dynamic renewable energy market and the fact that this could be a multi-year journey for your organization, having a knowledgeable and skilled advisor by your side can make all the difference.
Related Articles from Our Expert Advisers
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VP of Business Development
|Chris O'Brien, Director of Business Development||Zarminey Zia, Manager of Business Development|