3 Strategies To Get Local Utilities Moving on Renewables

by | May 16, 2018

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On maps of the US showing energy markets, a number of states don’t have wholesale markets with lots of options for renewable energy procurement. In those areas, creativity is required, says Kevin Haley, program manager of the Rocky Mountain Institute’s Business Renewables Center.

Speaking at the Environmental Leader & Energy Manager Conference in Denver, Haley responded to the question of how to spur utilities to act faster on renewables in order to help meet 100% renewable energy goals. “We’re struggling to make them move beyond a glacial pace,” a member of the audience commented during the plenary session “Extending the Horizons: Integrated Risk Management as Key to Achieving Operational Excellence.”

Haley offered these strategies:

—Begin with a conversation. “That’s where you begin,” he says. As an energy consumer, businesses can actually ask for what they want. Haley recommends talking with your utility to say, “I can’t get what I want, I’m willing to pay for it, let’s talk about our options.” See if that sparks forward momentum. He’s seen larger companies be successful.

—Partner with others to leverage your consumer voice. Getting results could require more than one company or institution making the request. “We’ve seen successful partnerships,” Haley said. “Have conversations with utilities to impress the amount of consumer interest in providing solutions that meet consumer needs.”

Catherine Greener, VP of sustainability for Xanterra Parks and Resorts, underscored this point, discussing how the company added a large solar deck to a parking garage at Mount Rushmore National Monument in South Dakota. Having the National Parks Service at the table to meet with partner Black Hills Energy was helpful, she said.

—Determine your price. “We have seen companies pay hefty fees to exit their utility agreements and procure on their own,” Haley said. He pointed to MGM paying to exit NV Energy in Nevada. “That’s not a great answer, but I bring it up as a good illustration of how far companies are willing to go to get what they want.”

Stay tuned for more updates from #ELEMCON18.

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