Highlights from day 1 of the Renewable Energy Sourcing Forum - Smart Energy Decisions

Commercial, Finance, Industrial, Sourcing Renewables  -  November 8, 2017 - By Megan Corsano

RESF kicks off with 3 key strategy considerations

Photo: Altenex President Duncan McIntyre discusses risk mitigation strategies at the SED Renewable Energy Sourcing Forum in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

The 2017 Smart Energy Decisions Renewable Energy Sourcing Forum kicked off Nov. 8 with three keynote speeches addressing the importance of finding your organization's 'why' for purchasing renewables, ensuring that your strategy aligns with the company’s larger strategy and diversifying the approach taken to expand a renewables portfolio.

During the session, Duncan McIntyre, president of Altenex, a subsidiary of Edison Energy, presented the primary risks associated with implementing a renewable energy strategy: Reputational, financial and those associated with the implementation of a renewable energy strategy.

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When asked about how to handle the dynamic of multiple competing priorities within a company looking to develop its renewables portfolio, such as the collaboration between the financial and procurement teams, McIntyre said he thinks many companies, including Amazon and General Motors, are shifting toward prioritizing reputational risks over potential financial risks.

“It is more often because of the financial implications and not because of the reputational piece,” McIntyre said about the forces that ultimately stop a renewables project within a corporation. “I think [reputation] is growing in importance and there's going to be a point where it actually surpasses the financial [risk].

McIntyre also stressed the importance of weighing the big picture when considering a specific renewables strategy and ensuring that the senior leadership at the company is just as committed to the goal.

“Successful risk management comes back to making sure the 'why' is dealt with, a strategy is put in place and the projects and strategy that are pursued are built on the common thread about what the business stands for and how the business wants to interact with its customers,” he said.

During the opening addresses, Reid Spolek, manager of Amazon Web Services’ renewable energy strategy, spoke about that initial question: why buy renewable energy? Spolek stressed the importance of defining the answer to that question for your company before progressing forward with any strategy or action.

In terms of renewable energy within his own company, Amazon Web Services, Spolek said the decision to purchase renewable energy comes from the consideration of what is valued by both their customers and their employees. In their case, Spolek said the value to AWS is that they meet their own sustainability needs while providing their services back to their own customers.

Spolek also stressed the importance of reaching out to peers throughout the industry for guidance while pursuing a new renewable energy goal, especially when trying to create alignment within their organization for the same renewable energy goal.

The last keynote speaker at the opening of the Renewable Energy Sourcing Forum, Marty Sedler, director of global utilities and infrastructure at Intel Corp., talked about the importance of diversifying the renewable projects that a company undertakes in order to minimize risk.

Sedler emphasized finding an individual strategy that works for each individual company, rather than directly repeating that of a previously successful one.

"Once you understand your why, then you can decide the how," Sedler said. "There is no ultimate one answer. There is no one strategy. There is no one goal. There is not one technology. There isn't one anything."

"Listen to everyone but don't let anyone tell you they're the sole savior," he said. "Listen to all the advice and develop the strategy that fits your needs."

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