Report: US Renewable Energy Supply Not Enough For Major Manufacturers’ Demand

by | Sep 22, 2017

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Credit: Brookhaven National Laboratory, Flickr Creative Commons

Major manufacturers in the United States have set ambitious goals around cheap renewable energy, but they are struggling to access the clean energy they want because of state policies that limit procurement, according to a new report from David Gardiner and Associates.

DGA’s report “The Growing Demand for Renewable Energy Among Major US and Global Manufacturers” reviewed 160 of the largest global manufacturing companies with a national footprint, including General Motors, Anheuser-Busch InBev, and Mars. It found that 25% of them established renewable energy targets and 83% have greenhouse gas reduction goals. Renewable energy, particularly wind and solar, is now among the cheapest and cleanest generation resources in the country, DGA points out. Naturally, manufacturers are pursuing that type of energy to help reduce costs.

Of the 160 companies, 18 have 100% renewable energy targets. For example, this week General Motors announced plans to purchase 200 megawatts of wind energy in Illinois and Ohio for manufacturing facilities that produce vehicles including light-duty pickup trucks. The move is part of GM’s goal of using renewable energy for 100% of its electricity needs by 2050.

However, DGA’s analysis found that many companies like GM are coming up against legal and policy barriers in their quests for adding renewable energy sources. Citing the 2017 Corporate Clean Energy Procurement Index, DGA points out that four of the 10 states with the most manufacturing facilities are in the bottom 25 rankings of US regions favorable to corporate customers seeking renewable energy for their operations: Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, and Tennessee. The index was developed by retail and IT industry trade groups and looks at 15 indicators to rank states.

DGA’s report recommends that states can attract big business by removing barriers to renewable energy development and access, support customer choice policies such as third-party purchase agreements, and foster conversations between utilities and large energy customers to ensure smooth development of next-generation utility green tariff programs.

Manufacturers aren’t just waiting around for states to switch gears, though. “More and more, manufacturers are engaging directly in energy policy advocacy in the states where they operate,” DGA senior research associate and report author Alexandra Rekkas says in a press release. “In fact, our report finds that manufacturers lead other sectors in state renewable energy policy advocacy.”

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