AWEA examines corporate wind PPA evolution - Smart Energy Decisions

Commercial, Industrial, Sourcing Renewables, Wind  -  December 29, 2016

AWEA: Rural, Rust Belt wind powering corporates

As commercial and industrial corporations are turning to wind energy to help meet increasingly large renewable energy goals, the American Wind Energy Association has published an analysis of corporate wind power purchase agreements to date.

"In recent years Fortune 500 companies have led an intense search for the best ways to buy more clean energy. And when big-named brands buy clean energy, they overwhelmingly choose wind because of our reliable, low cost," AWEA CEO Tom Kiernan said in a news release announcing the report. "Survey after survey shows Americans want more wind, and we want them to know brands behind the well-known products they buy — Amazon, General Motors, Google, Walmart and many more — are already wind-powered."

Between January and December, more than 20 new companies joined the RE100 initiative in pledging to power their operations with 100% renewable energy, bringing the total to 83, according to the organization's website. One of a number of related procurement trends driven by the heightened demand for clean energy among U.S. businesses is an increasing appetite for wind generation over solar.

AWEA's report, Evolution of the Corporate Wind PPA: Market Insights, aims to unpack the trend with an analysis of the corporate power purchase agreements signed to-date. The trade association's researchers surveyed 23 companies who have signed PPAs to power their business in collecting data for the report. 

Companies have procured approximately 5,000 MW of wind through PPAs out of a total 6,002 MW purchased from specific wind projects, according to the report. The remaining 1,002 MW were acquired through direct ownership or other means. In total, through PPAs and other methods, AWEA says corporate buyers have acquired 6,002 MW of wind through November 2016, which compares to about 1,000 MW of solar. 

Hannah Hunt, lead author of the report and Senior Analyst for AWEA said the bulk of wind projects built to serve the Fortune 500 are located from Texas, up through the rural heartland and across the Rust Belt. She explained: 

That’s where some of the best wind resources are. It also happens to be part of the country hurting for jobs and private investment. When these companies invest in a wind farm, they invest in a community. For example, when Iron Mountain brought a data center to southern Pennsylvania, they also invested in a wind farm in the state — that's two multi-million dollar boosts into the Rust Belt economy where previously there was one. 

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