Innovative partnerships are vital in acheiving a 100% clean energy world. Specifically, cross-sector partnerships can provide the sometimes missing capital, creative ideas, or leverage that is needed to overcome large obstacles. With the help of the federal government and the US Environmental Protection Agency, these partnerships are becoming more prevalent between cities, universities, private, and public entities. Thanks to the EPA’s Green Power Partnership Program, these entities and organizations are saving energy and saving money, all with the use of clean energy.
EPA Green Power Partnership Program
Despite being a voluntary program, Green Power Partnership is successfully attracting major companies, universities, and communities. In fact, there are over 1,300 organizations participting in the program. The idea is to bring a wide variety of expertise and create cross-sector partnerships that will drive the implementation and purchase of clean energy to reduce environmental footprints.
The two main benefits of joining the program are the credibility and publicity. Credibility in the sense of knowing your green power purchases and corporate energy choices are backed and supported by the EPA. And of course there is the publicity. Recently, various craves have been sweeping the nation as people look for the all-natural, organic, sustainable, and healthy choice. The entities which have embarked in the EPA’s program have essentially said, we are using the all-natural, sustainable, and healthy forms of energy. An incredibly smart business move.
The EPA’s model of building constructive and progressive partnerships between sectors and interests is allowing sustainability to become much more achievable. Now that various companies and institutions are working together with innovative financial tools and energy providers, clean energy for all is becoming environmentally beneficial and economically profitable.
Eyeing the Benefits of Solar and Green Partnerships
The benefits of using clean energy, solar in particular, are not going unnoticed by these big businesses and local communities.
Energy costs are often a significant chunk of a government’s or business’s operating costs, but with the steadily decreasing price of solar PV costs and the creation of cross-sector partnerships, there are now opportunities for entities to incorporate solar energy into their daily operations, better manage their operating costs, and focus on a triple bottom-line: people, planet, and profits.
These organizations and groups are also avoiding the potential volatility of future fossil fuel energy costs.
Solar, is not currently the be-all end-all for clean energy and sustainability, but combining the low costs of solar with other energy-efficiency or renewable energy strategies creates a force to be reckoned with.
Fortune 500 Companies Combining Solar and Green Partnerships
Aside from the company’s roughly 7 MW of installed solar capacity, the tech giant, Intel, powers 100% of the company’s needs with over 3 Billion kWh (kilowatt-hours) of renewable energy each year.
“In our view, a commitment to sustainability requires a broad portfolio of efforts.” - Intel and the Environment
Intel is committed to the EPA’s program and purchases the majority of their off-site green energy from their partner, Sterling Planet. This partnership, and overall amount of green energy that Intel creates and purchases, allows Intel to rank First on the EPA’s Fortune 500 Green Power Partnerships List and First on the Tech and Telecom companies list.
Kohl’s Department Stores:
Another S&P 500 company that joins the EPA’s list of the top green partnerships is Kohl’s retail stores. Not only does Kohls boast 156+ solar systems that generate over 44 MW of energy in 12 states, but the company generates and purchases OVER 100% of their yearly energy needs with green energy.
Outside of the EPA green partnership that Kohls has committed to, the company is very active in creating local and national partnerships that foster environmental stewardship and education on sustainability. These partnerships include Growing Power, Energy STAR, and the Nature Conservancy.
What other companies are increasing their solar capacity? The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) track and reports annually with their Solar Means Business Report on the top solar commercial users.
[Source: SEIA. Data in graphic from 2013]
Municipalities Combining Solar and Green Partnerships
Forest County Potawatomi Community – Crandon, WI:
An increasing amount of Tribal Nations have begun incorporating solar into their utility mixes, including Forest County Potawatomi Community. The Tribal Nation community has its own solar PV system on their local administration building that produces roughly 35,000 kWh per year.
In addition to a biogas generation plant, funded in partnership with the Department of Energy, the community also purchases renewable energy credits from their partner, 3Degrees. All in all, over 100% of the communities energy needs comes from green energy.
City of Palo Alto, CA:
It is tough to come up with a group of the top green partnerships in the nation, that also manage to incorporate solar, without having an entity from California. The City of Palo Alto receives 54.5% of its total energy use from green power and the local green utility program,PaloAltoGreen. Of the green power provided by the local utility, 100% is solar!
Universities Combining Solar and Green Partnerships
University of Missouri – Columbia, MO:
Coming in at First on the EPA’s University and College List, and Seventh overall, the University of Missouri receives 21.5% of its electricity from green power sources. Over 32 Million kWh are generated on-site and roughly 30 Million kWh are purchases off-site from its partner NextEra Energy Resources.
Not only does the university have a large biomass building to generate on-site energy, atop the structure sites a 34 kW solar system. In addition, the university also houses a separate 10 panel system for educational and research purposes.
Check out the other Top Green Power Partnership Universities & Colleges.
Want to know if your organization is eligible to join? Want to see where your university or company ranks? Check out the EPA’s Green Power Partnership website.
title photo: blog.homegain.com
Intel solar pv photo: roselawgroupreporter.com
John Steller is a recent Master’s graduate in Climate Science and Solutions from Northern Arizona University. During his time at NAU, John worked on climate change communication and greenhouse gas inventory projects for the University and Flagstaff community. Prior to his graduate education, he received his undergraduate degree in Environmental Geology from Murray State University. John enjoys trivia nights, baseball, and his never ending pursuit for the world’s best orange cream milkshake.