2008 Green-e Verification Report Shows 45% Increase in Sales
Each year the Green-e Verification Report details the state of the certified green power market, from green pricing programs and renewable energy certificate sales to companies buying renewable energy as part of their sustainability goals. The 2008 report released on September 13 showed sales of Green-e Energy Certified renewable energy were up 45% from 2007 with over 13 million MWh sold. Over 500,000 residential customers and more than 20,000 commercial customers purchased certified energy, a near doubling from the previous year. Organizations of all sizes participating in Green-e Marketplace purchased 2.9 million megawatt-hours of renewable energy, a record despite the economic slowdown. New to the report is Green-e Climate, reporting on its impressive first year of sales.
Insights from Renewable Energy Markets 2009
We returned from the Renewable Energy Markets 2009 conference in Atlanta reinvigorated and filled with thanks to everyone who helped make the conference a tremendous success. From the opening "Renewable Energy 101" workshop to the "Last Word: A Call for Action" closing session, the audience energy and participation level at REM was among the best we've experienced.
Shortly after returning home to San Francisco, CRS received a letter of thanks from one of the many relative newcomers to our industry, Janet Smith of 5D Marketing in Florida: "The presentations were informative and thought provoking, and the crowd was engaging, friendly and relaxed. You created an enjoyable environment to absorb and network."
During my career as an energy journalist, I covered many conferences with a notebook or tape recorder in hand to capture program insights and good quotes. This year, I'm at something of a disadvantage in recounting highlights of the conference in such detail. Still, several presentations stand out in memory because of what they revealed about the current and projected state of the markets for renewable energy.
In particular, I kept my ears and eyes open for indications of how the lingering national recession has affected this industry. From our Executive Panel, we heard cautious optimism that the future remains bright for renewable resources in the marketplace and the trend lines for clean energy supply and demand continue to rise.
This sense of cautious optimism was borne out in the "State of the Markets" panel, which dissected both voluntary market activity and projections for future development under the steadily growing mandates set by state-level renewable portfolio standards.
As usual, the most solid market data came from Lori Bird and colleagues at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. By any measure 2008 was a high-water mark for the development of new renewable energy resources in the United States. More than 8,550 MW of new wind capacity went into operation in 2008, and surprisingly, over 4,000 MW of new turbines were installed in the first half of 2009, Bird reported. Solar PV capacity increased by 44% in 2008, with over 1,100 MW of cumulative capacity now in operation domestically.
That increased supply continues to feed the market demand, and NREL documented an overall 34% increase in voluntary market sales volumes for renewables to 24 million MWh, led by a 47% increase in the sales of renewable energy certificates. REC markets now account for two-thirds of total transactions in the voluntary markets, according to NREL. That expansion more than made up for slower growth in utility green pricing programs (9%) and competitive electricity markets (22%). These figures and trends reflect the same growth patterns seen in Green-e certified energy markets during the year. Our newly released Green-e 2008 Verification Report documents a similar growth for total retail sales.
Will these trends continue through 2009? Even the prognosticators at NREL are unsure, citing evidence of slower growth so far this year. Some utility programs have lost customers during the downturn, but sizable customer gains continue in competitive and REC markets. For renewable energy marketers, the strategy for success appears to be devoting more attention to commercial sales. For others, success requires a well-thought-out strategy.
For me, one of the best presentations was made by Amanda Mortlock of 3Degrees, drawing on the company's partnerships with several utility green pricing programs. Her presentation, "Marketing Renewable Energy During a Recession," revealed several optimistic trends seen in 3Degrees' utility partnerships:
• In almost all cases, the "churn" or percentage of enrolled customers who leave the program each year has not increased significantly.
• Information collected by Pacific Power and Rocky Mountain Power suggest that new enrollees are not purchasing less than previously, and in fact, the number of renewable energy blocks purchased increased slightly.
• It is not only possible to launch a new utility program during a recession, but the experience in Dominion's Virginia territory shows that a new program can be quite successful—on par with successful programs launched in much better economic times.
A crucial question is whether new customers are enrolling at the same rate as in prior years. Here the data show a mixed result. Programs that rely on standard bill-based or paper marketing tactics alone appear to be losing ground, while more innovative "high touch" recruitment efforts are paying off, Ms. Mortlock revealed. By high touch she means programs that really connect with customers through trained field staff and utility call centers—providing customers with a sense of empowerment in their purchasing decisions, and appropriately applying incentives to spur action.
There are so many other valuable lessons learned from REM 2009, and so little space. But we invite you to review most of the presentations at the conference agenda website.
While you are there, please refresh your memories of this great event via the many photographs now posted. And send a mental word of thanks to our co-sponsors, the Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, along with our local host sponsor Sterling Planet, and all of the other sponsors and exhibitors who helped make REM 2009 possible.
If you were in Atlanta, thanks for joining us; and if not, we hope to see you next year!
Climate Solutions and Economic Growth in California
Policy Director Chris Busch appeared on E&ETV's OnPoint segment on Tuesday, November 17 to discuss his recent report, Climate Solutions and Economic Growth in California and the economic implications for California of complying with the state's Global Warming Solutions Act, AB 32. His much-anticipated report found that several major recent studies (including the California Air Resources Board's own) find that costs to the state would be tiny compared to the positive economic growth the state is expected to enjoy over the next decade. Most studies considered the savings from energy efficiency programs, but not the widespread benefits to the economy from the growing clean-energy infrastructure that creates jobs, reduces energy-import costs, and improves public health statewide. The report will be available soon from CRS Publications.
The Intersection Between RECs, Carbon, and Tracking
Both carbon offsets and renewable energy certificates (RECs) are used as ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. As marketplaces for these products grow, it is important to examine how they overlap in order to avoid any double counting of carbon benefits or claims. CRS is assisting the Environmental Tracking Network of North America (ETNNA) in the creation of a whitepaper about the ways these environmental commodities interact in North American registries and tracking systems, and best practices to avoid double counting. This paper, available soon, will examine electricity certificate tracking systems, greenhouse gas project registries and greenhouse gas inventory systems. [Learn more about ETNNA]
Insights Into the Renewable Energy Market
Businesses and organizations are increasingly looking to reduce the environmental impacts they are responsible for. The potential of renewable energy as a practical and effective market solution to a number of societal issues has garnered support from social, political, and business communities. Commercial demand significantly influences the overall renewable energy market, as these purchasers have become the largest and fastest growing sector of the voluntary market. Together with demand from state renewable portfolio standards, the increasing demand of the voluntary market is a clear driver for renewable energy in the United States. Insights Into the Renewable Energy Market documents increasing renewable energy purchases by commercial customers and offers analysis of procurement trends, market drivers, and impacts. Download the Report Now.
2008 CRS Annual Report Released
2008 was an exciting year for CRS, with strong increases in Green-e certifications, several key policy accomplishments, and continuing growth in clean energy initiatives. Download the Report Now.
CRS Close to Home on the San Francisco Carbon Collaborative
CRS Deputy Director Jennifer Martin recently joined the board of the San Francisco Carbon Collaborative—a newly formed nonprofit partnership of government, business, and environmental organizations working to accelerate the development of effective policy and market-based responses to climate change. The organization achieves its objective by delivering programs that foster multi-stakeholder collaboration; build sector capacity; support the development of just, inclusive, and effective public policies; and catalyze the creation, commercialization, and deployment of environmentally friendly technologies. [Learn more about the San Francisco Carbon Collaborative].
Leveraging the Green-e Logo:
An Introduction to Green-e Marketplace
The Green-e logo is the nation's leading symbol of renewable energy excellence and assists in the education of millions of consumers about the value of renewable energy. With a national recognition level of 20%, the Green-e logo is a unique way for purchasers and users of renewable energy to communicate their renewable energy commitment to their employees, customers, and stakeholders. Join us for a free webinar introducing Green-e Marketplace, a program for companies that purchase renewable energy. In this presentation, Orrin Cook, manager of Green-e Marketplace, will demonstrate how companies can effectively leverage their Green-e Energy Certified renewable energy purchases and the Green-e logo to build organizational credibility, educate consumers, and increase sales.
When: December 9th, 2009 10:30am PT/1:30pm ET (1 hour)
AISO, a web services company based in sunny Romoland, CA that hosts solar panels on top of its datacenter, recently took over the hosting of all of our websites, including CRS, Green-e, ETNNA, and Renewable Energy Markets. Their service during the transition was extremely helpful, and we look forward to many years of working with them. Check them out at www.aiso.net.
The Road to 33% and Other Policy Developments
CRS looks forward to engaging in the newly announced process to implement a 33% Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) as promulgated by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) under Assembly Bill 32 (AB 32), California's Global Warming Solutions Act. Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill passed by the California Legislature, but directed CARB to achieve the goal under AB 32 implementation. CRS was an early proponent of a 33% RES, and conducted the first significant study of its feasibility and cost (see our 2005 report Achieving a 33% Renewable Energy Target). Spirited debate in the California Legislature on the particulars of implementing a 33% RES included the role for tradable Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs). Lawmakers reached a compromise that would have limited the use of RECs derived from out-of-state generation sources. The legislative proposal to limit unbundled RECs to 25% of the state's RES commitment was seen as a way to prioritize in-state economic development and local clean-air benefits while still recognizing RECs' contributions to cost-effective greenhouse gas reductions and greater certainty that a 33% mandate can be met. In its proposed treatment of the issue, however, CARB on October 30 determined that there should be no limit on use of RECs, as long as the underlying generation unit is located within the Western Interconnection region. As CARB implementation of the 33% RES mandate proceeds, CRS will endeavor to help stakeholders understand tradeoffs amongst possible objectives, as well as strive to ensure that debate is technically sound.
Opponents of AB 32 have sought to use economic modeling as a weapon to block or delay implementation of the bill. As part of our ongoing economic defense of AB 32, Policy Director Chris Busch led the development of a coalition comment letter on the topic to the Economic and Allocation Advisory Committee of the California Air Resources Board. The letter offers this defense of CARB's modeling efforts: "CARB's analysis to date has met reasonable expectations given time constraints, limited resources and the state of modeling science...The CARB findings on the economic impacts of the Scoping Plan corroborate many other studies done in the California context and elsewhere. These models show relatively small net macroeconomic effects from greenhouse gas reduction efforts of similar magnitude to AB 32, even before other environmental benefits and avoided climate damages are considered. In addition, future innovation not captured by the models will almost certainly further lower abatement costs...Peer review criticism of CARB's economic modeling has been misrepresented."
—Chris Busch, Policy Director
Green-e Climate recently welcomed The CarbonNeutral Company into the program, the first internationally based provider of certified offsets. Based in London, the company is offering carbon offsets sourced from clean energy from a small hydropower station in Yunnan Province, China and certified at the project level by the Voluntary Carbon Standard. You can read the release on the Green-e Press Releases and Advisories page. Green-e Climate also approved the first micro-grid renewable energy project under the Green-e Climate Protocol for Renewable Energy, the Banner Wind project, a .9MW installation that includes 18 wind generators in the Snake River Valley in Nome, Alaska. This is the first commercial wind farm to be installed in the city of Nome, a rural community with approximately 3,500 residents that currently gets nearly all of its power from diesel generators. Read more about the project under Approved Facilities. [Learn more about Green-e Climate]
Help improve the Green-e Energy National Standard. The Standard, which defines high-quality renewable energy types for the program, is undergoing its latest revision, and we want your help. As the nation's leading stakeholder driven standard for voluntary renewable energy, we need your input on potential revisions to the National Standard that were released on Monday, November 16 for a 60-day comment period. Please also help us get as much input as possible by sending the call for comments to all interested parties. Comments can be submitted online by completing this survey, and a summary of potential changes is available on the Green-e Energy National Standard and Governing Documents website. [Learn more about Green-e Energy]
Green-e Marketplace Featured Company: Garden of Life. In March 2006, Garden of Life made a commitment to purchase Green-e Energy Certified renewable energy certificates (RECs) equivalent to 100% of its operation's electricity use. One year later, Garden of Life verified its renewable energy purchase through Green-e Marketplace and began incorporating the Green-e logo into its products. Today, nearly four years after its initial purchase, Garden of Life continues to meet its 100% renewable energy commitment for its entire operations.
Garden of Life publicly demonstrates its commitment to renewable energy by displaying the Green-e logo on an increasing number of its products. Additionally, they provide an informative website to educate their customers about renewable energy and encourage others to follow Garden of Life's lead by purchasing renewable energy. [Read more about Garden of Life] [Learn more about Green-e Marketplace]
HSBC Bank partnered with CRS to support Green-e Marketplace in 2006–2008 and Green-e Climate in 2008–2009. HSBC's support has been instrumental in providing funding for these two new CRS programs in their start-up phases. One of HSBC - North America's primary objectives is to support environmental initiatives that focus on climate change, freshwater, and terrestrial biodiversity.
HSBC supports organizations that focus on environmental policy development, public awareness–building, education of teachers or other adults, scientific research and projects to improve the sustainability or resilience of ecosystems. The U.S. EPA has recognized HSBC's commitment to renewable energy and combtting climate change by presenting HSBC - North America with the Green Power Partner of the Year award in 2005 and 2006, and the Climate Protection Award in 2007. HSBC - North America conducts a thorough analysis of its environmental impact performance in both the United States and Canada. Environmental metrics are fed into a global environmental reporting system that collects and analyzes data on the consumption of energy, water, production of waste, and CO2. By knowing its environmental footprint, HSBC is able to set goals to reduce it. CRS recognizes HSBC as a leader in the green business movement and is proud to partner with them to advance the use of renewable energy by businesses and provide quality assurance in the carbon offset market through our Green-e Climate program. [Learn more about HSBC - North America]
Welcome New Green-e Energy Participants
Welcome New Green-e Climate Participant
Welcome New Green-e Marketplace Participants
13th Annual EUEC 2010 Conference and Expo
February 1-3, 2010 at the Phoenix Convention Center, Phoenix, AZ. Robin Quarrier will speak on "The Voluntary Market: Financing Project Development Beyond the RPS".
- San Francisco Nonprofit Leadership Series
January 26, 2010 in San Francisco, CA. Sponsored by Center for Nonprofit Success. Troy Arnold will present on a panel called "Board Development: Building a Strong and Healthy Board of Directors".