From Walmart To Google, Companies Teaming Up To Buy More Solar And Wind Power

Power lines and power-generating windmills rise above the rural landscape on June 13, 2018, near Dwight, Ill. Driven by falling costs, global spending on renewable energy sources like wind and solar is now outpacing investment in electricity from fossil fuels and nuclear power. CREDIT: SCOTT OLSON/GETTY IMAGES
Power lines and power-generating windmills rise above the rural landscape on June 13, 2018, near Dwight, Ill. Driven by falling costs, global spending on renewable energy sources like wind and solar is now outpacing investment in electricity from fossil fuels and nuclear power. CREDIT: SCOTT OLSON/GETTY IMAGES

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Going green is often easier said than done, but a new business organization is hoping to change that. While focusing on large-scale energy buyers, the group plans to push for changes that could make renewable power more accessible for all Americans.

Companies from a variety of industries — including Walmart, General Motors, Google and Johnson & Johnson — are forming a trade association to represent firms that purchase renewable energy and remove barriers that make it complicated to shift away from carbon.

The new organization, the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance, is building on years of work between corporations and climate advocacy nonprofits. Currently, about 200 companies, cities and universities are involved.

Miranda Ballentine, the CEO of the new trade group, says the organization will help push energy markets and public policies to make it easier to actually choose to buy green energy.

It’s harder than you might think for a company to choose renewables, Ballentine says.

“Especially in today’s day and age, when we see many renewable energy technologies that are meeting or beating brown [conventional] power prices, you would think, ‘Hallelujah! The day has come, clean energy is here, we can now just go out and buy it.’ But there are a number of barriers,” she says.

One is the way energy markets are set up. They vary by region — some areas allow more choice than others. But in many locations, buyers can’t select a source for the energy they get from a utility.

“They can’t actually say, ‘I want power from that wind project over there,’ ” Ballentine says. “They literally cannot contract directly for certain sources of power.”

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