November 1


What Transmission Planners Need to Know About Corporate America’s Plans for Renewable Energy


November 1, 2020

Transmission planners, or the entities responsible for laying out power grids, acquiring new energy suppliers, and meeting growing demands, have a problem when it comes to Corporate America. By far, major companies are the biggest consumers of energy. Their needs are critical, but they have not always been so boisterous about supporting renewable energy sources. Today, that changes as a recent report from the Wind Energy Foundation outlines.

Big companies, consisting largely of fortune 500 companies, are now publicly supporting the need for increased renewable energy sources and capacities. It has been proven that renewable energy, such as wind and solar power, are being priced at costs lower than ever seen before. Their prices are now even lower than sources coming from fossil fuels. The WEF report further details that a group consisting of an excess of 100 well known corporate businesses have aimed to start purchasing 60 GW of environmentally-friendly energy in total, by 2025. This is about the same amount of energy that comes from a total of more than 100 power plants producing power from conventional means, which would be sufficient power to run almost 50 million residential properties. The report from the WEF then goes on to estimate that the group has yet to meet that goal, falling short by approximately 51 GWs, making it questionable whether traditional transmission plans will be able to keep up with growing demand.

Executive Director at WEF, John Kostyack, has a lot to say about the report demonstrated, including how it clearly outlined how critical it was for transmission planners to take the goals of corporations into consideration, especially when it comes to renewable energy sources. Simply put, the current plan isn't working on a cost-saving basis or where it concerns growing needs. New solar and wind projects are being developed to meet the demands of large-scale corporate buyers. These buyers are working to finalize renewable energy source contracts, enabling them to secure much lower prices.

What the report from WEF is clear about is the reality that planned transmission facilities are unlikely to be able to commit to delivering the amount of energy that renewable power companies said they would. A good example of this is detailed further in the report, showing that current planned transmission facilities for future energy needs could potentially fulfill about 78 percent of demand for renewable power in a low-level procurement environment, but only 42 percent in a high-level procurement situation. This does not fair well for transmission planners or their corporate partners, especially if demand continues to grow as it is expected.

Various scenarios were compared in the WEF report, which revealed that many transmission facilities planned to be open in the future, as well as those already in existence, are not capable of producing sufficient renewable power to corporations. Global manager of Renewable Energy at General Motors, Rob Threlkeld, believes that accessibility to renewable energy sources is crucial for GM's expansion of new facilities. Transmission planners absolutely have to factor renewable energy sources and how Corporate America positions them as a way forward in the outlining of future energy transmission. New transmissions that make use of renewables are important to GM as it enables them to meet all commitments head on, while keeping costs low.

In closing, the report states that buyers within corporations and companies consisting of a large number of institutional customers should consider these steps:

  • Host and facilitate increased talks about local and expanded transmission planning so that new transmission facilities make adequate use of renewable power sources.
  • Work with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to foster better planning processes for inter-regional planning facilities, in recognition of Order 1000.

As David Gardiner and Associates President, David Gardiner, suggests, if a company wants to get involved with renewable power, they have to involve themselves with transmission planning. This association was responsible for the production of the WEF report. Clear and concise advocacy is the best tool corporations can use so transmission planners can communicate the importance of acquiring more renewable energy.

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