NYT highlights shift in corporate energy strategy - Smart Energy Decisions

Energy Procurement, Commercial, Industrial, Sourcing Renewables  -  August 24, 2016

NYT article highlights corporate energy strategy shift

With Apple Inc. recently joining Google and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. in being granted federal approval to sell electricity into wholesale power markets, media coverage of corporate energy management, and the pursuit of cleaner power options in particular, seems to be reaching a fever pitch. 

Coverage of Apple's quest for cleaner power, which led to its seeking permission to sell its excess renewable energy capacity to power markets at wholesale rates, culminated in an Aug. 23 article in The New York Times. Leading with Apple, reporter Diane Cardwell outlined a series of factors contributing  to the growing number of commercial and industrial power users aggressively pursuing clean energy to power their operations, including reduced power price volatility and increasing demand from shareholders and customers for businesses to address climate change. 

"In the United States, the generating capacity of corporate clean energy projects has more than doubled each year since 2013," The Times reported, citing the Business Renewables Center at the Rocky Mountain Institute. "In 2015, 11 companies signed up for 3.23 gigawatts’ worth of projects, roughly the equivalent of five coal plants and up from 1.18 gigawatts the year before."

Also contributing to the trend, the newspaper notes, is the growth in energy demand stemming from power-ravenous data centers, especially at technology companies, which are used to power cloud computing, The Times reported, citing Brian Janous, director of energy strategy at Microsoft. 

"We are all becoming very large energy players, and this is a shift,” the newspaper quoted Janous as saying "Energy is not something that Microsoft or Amazon or Google really ever had to think much about prior to the advent of the cloud."

Janous spoke on that topic in more detail earlier this year in a conversation with Smart Energy Decisions: 

I've got a little picture in my office, it's from a brochure Deloitte put together several years ago, and it says 'every company is an energy company,' and then there's an asterisk, and it says, 'and if it isn't, it will be soon.' And to me, that captures a lot of the way that I approach what we're doing at Microsoft. It's the realization that, particularly in the cloud space — energy is the raw material of the cloud.

The Times also provided an overview of the work electric utilities have done to meet the demands of their large power users for cleaner energy options, such as green tariffs and synthetic or virtual power purchase agreements. 

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