BCSE Statement on Administration’s Executive Order on Efficient Federal Operations Encouraging Use of Performance Contracts to Achieve Energy Goals (May 21, 2018)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                

May 21, 2018                                                                                                                       

Contact: Laura Tierney
Email: ltierney@bcse.org
Office: 202.785.0507

BCSE Statement on Trump Administration’s Executive Order on Efficient Federal Operations Encouraging Use of Performance Contracts to Achieve Energy Goals

Washington, DC – The Business Council for Sustainable Energy’s President, Lisa Jacobson released the following statement in response to President Trump’s Executive Order titled “Efficient Government Operations.”

“The release of the Executive Order focused on Efficient Government Operations is important to continue to achieve annual building energy and water reductions at federal facilities.  Importantly, the Council strongly supports the Executive Order’s recognition of performance contracting, through Energy Savings Performance Contracts and Utility Energy Savings Contracts, in achieving the goals.

“The BCSE also commends the continued existence and duties of a Federal Environmental Executive, a steering committee, and Chief Sustainability officers at agencies as well as continued tracking of efforts related to this Executive Order.”

Energy Savings Performance Contracts (ESPCs) and Utility Energy Service Contracts (USECs), collectively known as performance contracts, enable government agencies to procure energy savings and facility infrastructure improvements with no up-front capital costs or appropriations. Through performance contracts, private sector companies finance and install new energy efficient equipment in federal buildings, reducing energy and operating costs and addressing maintenance backlogs. In exchange for a pre-determined price, the chosen ESCO guarantees future energy savings, which are used to pay for the energy efficiency upgrades with excess savings accruing to the federal government. In fact, payment to the ESCO is contingent upon realizing that guaranteed annual savings stream.

Download the press release.

Clean Energy in Action: First Solar To Expand U.S. Manufacturing

May 21, 2018 | Laura Tierney, Business Council for Sustainable Energy

A rendering of planned facility in Lake township, Ohio.

First Solar’s recent announcement of its plans to add 500 additional high-quality manufacturing jobs in northwest Ohio at a new greenfield facility and to spend over $400 million in its construction is a powerful example of the jobs and economic benefit that clean energy is bringing to American communities.

| Over 250,000 Americans are employed in the solar industry[i]

The new jobs will include a combination of professional engineers and manufacturing technicians.  Panels produced by First Solar are used in commercial, industrial and utility-scale applications.

First Solar will construct a new Series 6 thin film photovoltaic (PV) module manufacturing facility with an annualized manufacturing capacity of 1.2 GW in Lake Township, Ohio, next to its existing facility in Perrysburg Township. The expansion will triple First Solar’s domestic production capacity. Construction will begin in mid-2018, and is expected to be fully operational by late 2019.

| First Solar is the largest photovoltaic (PV) module manufacturer  in the United States

About First Solar, Inc.

First Solar (Nasdaq: FSLR) is a leading global provider of comprehensive photovoltaic (PV) solar systems which use its advanced module and system technology. The company’s integrated power plant solutions deliver an economically attractive alternative to fossil-fuel electricity generation today. From raw material sourcing through end-of-life module recycling, First Solar’s renewable energy systems protect and enhance the environment. For more information about First Solar, please visit www.firstsolar.com

Photo Captions
Top: A rendering of planned facility in Lake Township, Ohio.
Bottom: First Solar' Series 6 Production Floor

[i] National Solar Jobs Census 2017, The Solar Foundation

BCSE Statement on U.S. Energy and Employment Report (May 15, 2018)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 16, 2018                                                                                                                       

Contact: Laura Tierney
Email: ltierney@bcse.org
Office: 202.785.0507

BCSE Statement on U.S. Energy and Employment Report
Clean Energy Industries Show Strong Employment Figures, Support over 3 Million U.S. Jobs

Washington, DC – Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE) President Lisa Jacobson made the following statement about the U.S. Energy and Employment Report released earlier today:

“The Business Council for Sustainable Energy commends the National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO) and the Energy Futures Initiative for carrying forward this important assessment of employment in the energy sector.  The report is valuable because it is a resource that tracks employment in the energy sector, which is a critical component of the U.S. economy.

“This year’s U.S. Energy and Employment Report (USEER) affirms the fact that these clean energy sectors – energy efficiency, natural gas, and renewable energy – are the growth sectors of the American economy, supporting over 3 million jobs across the country.

“By taking a close look at the USEER and overlaying the lenses of current policy discussions on tax, grid modernization, resilience, infrastructure and energy innovation, we can see even greater untapped potential.  Strengthening policy certainty and encouraging investments in clean energy will increase the number of jobs these sectors provide and broaden the reach of economic benefits to households across the country.”

Highlights of the report include:

  • The energy efficiency sector now employs 2.25 million Americans and added 67,000 new jobs – or 50 percent of total new jobs in the energy sector – in 2017.
  • Natural gas sector employment numbers are also rising, adding 19,000 new jobs in 2017.
  • Combined heat and power, which represents 8.5 percent of U.S. generation, doubled its jobs numbers in 2017.
  • In renewable energy, the wind industry increased its workforce by 6 percent, adding 107,000 jobs; the solar industry employed 350,000 Americans; and the bio-energy sector experienced the fastest growth, increasing its employment by 55 percent to over 4,000 workers in 2017.

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Download this press release here.

Energy Business Groups Call for Protection of American Energy Transition and Opportunities to Improve Trade Relations with China (May 15, 2018)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 15, 2018                  

Energy Business Groups Call for Protection of American Energy Transition and Opportunities to Improve Trade Relations with China

Washington, DC –  A coalition of energy groups submitted written comments on May 11 to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative to express the concerns of a broad range of U.S. energy interests regarding the potential impact of proposed trade tariffs with China on the growing American clean energy industry.

The groups, which include the Advanced Energy Economy (AEE), the Alliance to Save Energy, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), and the Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE), spoke to the strength of the clean and advanced energy and energy efficiency resources in the United States, representing $200 billion of economic activity and employing more than 3 million workers across the country.

“Energy-efficient products help consumers and businesses save energy and money, and we should be thinking of ways to increase those opportunities, not hinder them. Unfortunately, these proposed tariffs would make it more difficult and more expensive for Americans to access the long-term savings of these energy-saving technologies,” said Alliance to Save Energy President Jason Hartke. “Moreover, the U.S. energy efficiency industry, and the more than two million jobs it supports, uses many of these products to deliver energy savings and we don’t want to see that success disrupted or that industry weakened. It is important that the administration understand the potential negative effects of tariffs on energy efficiency.”

“Businesses in the energy efficiency, natural gas and renewable energy sectors are committed to growing the U.S. clean energy economy and are participants in the global economy – with component providers and customers throughout China,” commented BCSE President Lisa Jacobson.  “We recognize that the protection of intellectual property rights (IPR) is a critical component of business operations and development in any country, and fundamental to energy innovation. We seek opportunities to work with the Trump administration and Chinese government leaders to implement improved trade relations.”

Contact:

Ben Somberg, Alliance to Save Energy, bsomberg@ase.org, 202-530-2223
Laura Tierney, Business Council for Sustainable Energy, ltierney@bcse.org, 202-785-0507

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Download the press release.

Future-proofing Supply Chains in the Face of Climate Change

May 8, 2018 │ Author: Ashley Allen, Climate & Land Senior Manager, Mars, Inc.

As the complexities of climate change loom large across all sectors, one thing is becoming increasingly clear for corporations: taking action on climate change is smart business. But while the business case for investing in clean energy to fuel business operations is well-known, for many companies the bulk of greenhouse gas emissions and climate risk exist in their supply chains. Only by using their influence to address climate change in their supply chains will businesses thrive into the future.

Mars restores coral reefs in the Coral Triangle, which increases resilience of coastal communities.

Corporate climate action is growing.

Over the last few years, the business community has awakened to the reality that actively responding to climate change isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s better for the bottom line.    More than 12,500 companies, cities and other non-government entities – “non-state actors” in United Nations (UN) parlance – have registered climate commitments and actions into the UN NAZCA portal (an on-line data platform named after the ancient Peruvian geoglyphs that represent symbols of nature). More than 380 companies have signed on to develop science-based targets to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in alignment with the goal outlined in the UN Paris Agreement to keep global warming to under two degrees Celsius. In the United States, the business community has come out especially strong in support of the We Are Still In campaign, which provides a platform for U.S. companies and subnational governments to pick up the mantle of the Paris Agreement as the U.S. Administration vows to pull out.

The business case for climate action is clear.

The enthusiasm of the private sector for taking action on climate change is perhaps unsurprising in light of the ever-clearer business case. According to a 2017 article by the New Climate Economy, 190 of the Fortune 500 companies collectively saved $3.7 billion in 2016 through renewable energy and energy efficiency. And taking action early to reduce greenhouse gas emissions can give companies a competitive advantage over late-movers as an increasing number of countries and regions institute a carbon price. In 2017 around 42 national and 25 subnational jurisdictions had a carbon pricing scheme, generating a cumulative $20 billion in revenue. At Mars, this solid business case motivated us to launch our Sustainable in a Generation Plan, including targets to achieve 100 percent renewable energy by 2040 and cut our full value chain carbon emissions by 27 percent by 2025 and 67 percent by 2050. Stated simply, climate action is smart business.

Agricultural supply chains are at significant risk.

While the clean energy business case is broadly accepted at this point, the risk exposure and loss potential of climate change impacts for companies’ full value chains is less well understood, and perhaps even more significant. Consider the Mars supply chain: to make the branded products that consumers love, such as M&M’S®, Uncle Ben’s®, and Whiskas®, we source hundreds of ingredients from more than 80 countries.  In the face of climate change, crops are exposed to stronger and more frequent storms, less predictable precipitation, and increasing potential for drought or other climate extremes. Around the world, agricultural systems depend on predictable cycles of sun, rain, and seasonal temperatures. In fact, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, around 80 percent of global agriculture is rain-fed. When weather patterns that farmers count on are disrupted, food production suffers. The remaining 20 percent of agricultural area that is irrigated produces 40 percent of the world’s food, and is located primarily in China, India and Pakistan. Heat and drought conditions that increase water stress also threaten production in these areas, which are at the same time facing growing populations and growing demand for food.

A couple of weeks ago, I participated in a Climate One podcast with Jason Clay, senior vice president at the World Wildlife Fund, an expert in climate change and food. Jason described countless examples of shifts in the areas where foods are traditionally grown – oats are now produced in Canada instead of the U.S.; the U.S. Corn Belt is edging toward the Canadian border, as well; and Russia is seeing bumper harvests of wheat as record temperatures boost yields, to name a few examples. As the world continues to see shifting trends in global agriculture, companies that depend on crops to create their products are going to have to adapt to continue to be successful.

The key to future-proofing supply chains is sustainable sourcing.

So what can companies do now to help climate-proof their supply chains for the future?  The Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosure recommends that companies begin to screen their business now for climate risks, plan for multiple climate change scenarios, and set up the governing structures to reduce their exposure to these risks. F

or food companies, the bulk of these risks appear at the highest tier of their supply chains, where farmers grow or produce the ingredients with which their products are made. Food companies rarely have direct control on how these ingredients are grown, or direct relationships with the farmers who grow them. Instead, food companies can influence the production of these ingredients through sustainable sourcing strategies – essentially setting standards and making strategic decisions on how and what they buy.

Planning for the future and advancing climate-responsive agricultural production through sustainable sourcing can both help tackle the causes of climate change and build resilience to climate shocks. At Mars, we’re developing strategies to sustainably source the key ingredients we depend on. Sustainable sourcing strategies can improve the social and environmental impacts of ingredients, such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and take into account the changing political, environmental, and other contexts in which those ingredients are produced. For example, in our rice supply chain we’ve set up water efficiency programs with farmers in water-stressed regions in Pakistan, India and Spain. In Pakistan, initial results have seen water use reduced by 30 percent and farmers’ income increased by 75 percent. In the U.S., we’re advancing alternate wetting and drying techniques to reduce water use. These efforts also reduce methane emissions, a potent greenhouse gas.

Mars is helping farmers in Pakistan adopt water-saving measures for basmati rice production

Mars is also working to build resilience in critical ecosystems that support our supply chains. For example, we’re supporting the world’s largest coral reef restoration program in the Coral Triangle area near Indonesia, which is threatened by ocean acidification, ocean warming, overfishing, and other stresses. Using steel ‘spider’ structures to fill in damaged reef areas, the project has increased coral growth cover and diversity. Restored reefs provide food, shelter and spawning areas for a variety of marine mammals and fish, such as tuna which is an important supply chain for Mars pet food brands.

Companies need to step up on supply chain sustainability.

Of course nothing is ever fully future-proofed or climate-proofed. Climate change is by nature unpredictable, and because of the bank of CO2 that has already built up in the atmosphere, some level of climate change is inevitable. What’s missing is a clear process for embedding mid- and long-term climate scenarios into existing corporate risk management systems, to lower the risk of supply volatility and disruption. If climate science can be effectively translated for business, companies can make sourcing decisions that lower climate risks and raise the resilience of food systems. Reams of climate data and climate change scenarios are publicly available. Already this data is being translated into tools and metrics for national governments, states and cities to build climate resilience. We need climate, agricultural and business experts to come together to translate these data and tools for businesses, so that companies can integrate this data within their existing strategies and business systems. And we need food companies to step up and commit to sustainability not only in their operations, but in their supply chains, so that we can transform the agricultural sector into the clean and resilient food system of the future.

This article was originally posted by the author to her LinkedIn profile on April 20, 2018 and is re-published here with the author's permission.

Let’s Talanoa: How Clean Energy Can Power Ambition

May 4, 2018 | Author: Laura Tierney, Director, International Programs, Business Council for Sustainable Energy

This weekend in Germany, at the Bonn Climate Change Conference, countries and stakeholders are putting the Talanoa Dialogue into action, sitting together to share stories of climate action, inspiration and ideas for pathways forward.  Here is how I would tell the story of the Business Council for Sustainable Energy and its members, and bring the “power” of clean energy to the dialogue:

I encourage you all to think of the clean energy sector, as a partner to “power the ambition” of countries. This “powering” is built upon public-private partnership, and on the practical experience of governments working with companies that have the low-carbon technology and technical expertise, who know what works for successful deployment of clean energy solutions.

How do we turn partnering with the private sector into action for ambition?  We build upon the demonstrated successes – and we look to the momentum that has been surging over the past ten years.  We create a positive feedback loop – when we deploy more clean energy, more low-carbon solutions, when we see what success delivers and what can be achieved, we can then strive to do more together.

Based on our experience in the United States, we can provide insight into key dimensions of what we know to be true – that by growing the market for clean energy, we are also growing our economy, creating jobs, providing affordable and reliable energy, reducing emissions and strengthening our resilience to a changing climate.

There is a vibrant and hopeful story of energy sector transformation underway in the United States, which is documented by the Business Council for Sustainable Energy and Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s Sustainable Energy in America Factbook.   I encourage you to download this resource and continue to read more about this story.

The Council’s written submission to the Talanoa Dialogue highlights the progress of the U.S. energy transformation and the policy, financing and partnership tools that have enabled this shift to cleaner and more efficient energy resources.  It showcases how U.S. companies have made significant progress on their climate commitments and are leading the way with innovative new projects. It emphasizes the need to embrace a broad portfolio of clean energy solutions and include partnership and consultation with the private sector.

BCSE Statement on Farm Bill Energy Provisions (May 3, 2018)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                           

May 3, 2018                                                                                                                                       

Contact: Laura Tierney

Email: ltierney@bcse.org

Office: 202.785.0507

Clean Energy Businesses Urge Action on Energy Provisions in Farm Bill

Washington, DC – Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE) President, Lisa Jacobson, made the following statement about the urgent need for Congress to maintain a bipartisan energy title in the comprehensive Farm Bill rewrite.

“The Council urges Congress to reauthorize and maintain stable mandatory funding for energy title programs in the next farm bill reauthorization. It is essential that a healthy, robust bipartisan energy title continue as part of new comprehensive agriculture legislation.

“The farm bill energy title programs have assisted rural America to develop clean, renewable energy, bio-based products, and to make energy efficiency investments.

“Energy title programs provide the means for agriculture-based entrepreneurs to launch initiatives to generate jobs and economic development – from wind, geothermal, hydro and solar power, to biogas and advanced biofuels, to biopower, bio-based products, renewable chemicals, and energy efficiency. The energy title has enabled farmers, ranchers, and rural small businesses to become more self-sufficient, and bring high-value products to market.

“For America’s farmers, ranchers and rural small businesses to continue to be leaders in the development and the advancement of the clean energy economy, it is critical the next Farm Bill reauthorize programs such as the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) and other energy title programs,” Jacobson said.

For a complete copy of a letter the Council sent to Congress about the Farm Bill go here.

 

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Happy Birthday to the Clean Energy Business Network!

May 2, 2018 | Author: Lisa Jacobson, President, Business Council for Sustainable Energy

We are pleased to celebrate the one-year anniversary of bringing the Clean Energy Business Network (CEBN) on board as an independent initiative of the Business Council for Sustainable Energy.

This broadening of our clean energy “family” is already exceeding expectations – adding a fantastic staff to the team, strengthening the Council’s federal policy advocacy by including the perspectives of small and medium-sized businesses in our outreach and building a bigger clean energy marketplace around the country.

Working together the BCSE and CEBN bring complementary strengths to the table; and by joining forces, a more unified voice on behalf of clean energy in key policy areas such as investment in federal research, development and deployment, tax policy and electric grid resilience and modernization.

Get Involved

Do you know 5 clean energy business leaders? Companies that you work with in your supply chain, project implementation, or are engaged in your community or local university? Please forward them this article — and urge them to join the Clean Energy Business Network’s growing community!

A Year in Review

In its first year as part of the BCSE, the CEBN has made tremendous progress, and some of these accomplishments are listed below.

  • 150 new members added, bringing total membership to 3,150
  • Establishment of CEBN Board of Directors
  • 2 conferences/fly-ins convened in Washington, DC
  • 200 business leaders engaged in communications and meetings with policymakers, with emphasis on federal appropriations, tax policy, and grid infrastructure
  • Creation of Faces Behind the Facts, profiling business leaders behind these industry trends, to complement the Sustainable Energy in America Factbook
  • Convening Power Circuit conferences around the country – inaugural event held in The Woodlands, Texas on May 1, with subsequent events in coming months in Ohio and Pennsylvania

About the CEBN

The Clean Energy Business Network is growing the clean energy economy—one small business at a time. The CEBN serves as a collective voice before policymakers empowering small- and medium-size clean energy businesses across multiple technologies and geographies, and help these companies navigate funding, networking, and business development opportunities. For more information, visit: www.cebn.org.

Clean Energy Businesses Applaud Action on FAA Pre- and Post-Disaster Resiliency Measures (April 30, 2018)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 30, 2018
Contact: Laura Tierney
Email:  ltierney@bcse.org
Office: 202.785.0507

Clean Energy Businesses Applaud Action on FAA Pre- and Post-Disaster Resiliency Measures

Washington, DC – Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE) President, Lisa Jacobson, made the following statement about emergency preparedness and response provisions of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill passed by the House of Representatives:

“The Council was pleased to see provisions included in the FAA Reauthorization bill that will advance electric grids, power supplies and building stock that are reliable, more resilient, agile, cost effective, cyber-secure, and environmentally sound.”

“The legislation included two key pieces of legislation – the Disaster Recovery Reform Act, and the PREPARE Act – which will ensure that the United States does two things: better prepares for disasters and extreme weather events and rebuilds more resiliently for when disaster does strike.”

The Disaster Recovery and Reform Act, introduced by Congressman Barletta (PA), would provide pre-disaster mitigation grants and authority for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to assist communities with rebuilding after disasters with more robust design and construction standards. The PREPARE Act, introduced by Congressman Cartwright (PA) would establishes a Council of relevant agencies to increase government effectiveness in emergency management. Under the PREPARE Act, these designated agencies would both develop their own disaster contingency plans and coordinate together on regional emergency management

“The PREPARE Act is a useful tool to combat coordination failure, perhaps the most critical concern in the emergency management sector,” Jacobson continued. “The Council applauds Congressman Cartwright and Congressman Barletta, and other co-sponsors, for their efforts to include these important pieces of legislation in the FAA reauthorization bill.

“Renewable energy, energy efficiency and natural gas deliver jobs, increased economic growth, greater energy productivity and fewer emissions for the United States.  Improvements to the nation’s aging energy infrastructure and our built environment – which would use more of these clean energy technologies and services – along with better building codes, will create resilient and sustainable communities.

“As the legislation now moves to the Senate, the Council will continue to work toward even stronger resilience provisions.” Jacobson said.

Tech firms like Google, Amazon push power companies toward solar and wind, a blow to coal (April 22, 2018)

Tech firms like Google, Amazon push power companies toward solar and wind, a blow to coal

By: Elizabeth Weise, USA TODAY
Published April 22, 2018

SAN FRANCISCO — Every time you save a photo to the cloud, buy something on Amazon, open a Google doc or stream a movie, you’re probably pulling electricity from a wind turbine in Texas or a solar farm in Virginia.
In fact, your clicks and taps may have helped build them.

Since 2008, renewable energy has gone from 9% to 18% of the U.S. energy mix, according to the Business Council for Sustainable Energy. A big part of that shift stems from tech companies’ rapid buildout of cloud storage centers and a move to burnish their public image by vowing they’ll run these centers on sources like wind and solar.

Rather than lose these deep-pocketed customers, the nation’s power companies are changing policies and crafting deals that meet increased demands for renewable energy, in some cases shifting away from traditional electricity supplies like coal and natural gas. Even in coal mining states like West Virginia.

“We have the ability to shape the market,” said Michael Terrell, head of Google Energy Policy. “If you build it, we will come.”
Last year, the top four corporate users of renewable energy in the world were Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Apple, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Google announced this month that as of 2017, all its facilities and data centers were running on 100% renewable electricity.

Coal declining

A practice of insisting power companies offer wind- and solar-sourced power supplies is spreading to other sectors — Walmart, GM and Budweiser all have goals to run more of their global business off renewable energy.

This is bad news for the struggling coal industry. Coal producers have seen their share of U.S. power generation decrease since 2008, even as the Trump Administration has promised to roll back what it considers hostile environmental regulations.

The coal industry has said it now knows that at least the government is not going to discourage production, and it’s only got to deal with the marketplace.

The problem is that a growing portion of the marketplace is demanding green energy.

“There’s no federal or state law out there today that says you must do this, but there are boards of directors that say ‘We want to set a carbon footprint goal for our companies,'” said Appalachian Power President and COO Chris Beam.

In December, the Charleston, W.Va-based utility contracted with Bluff Point Wind Energy Center in Indiana to buy 120 megawatts of wind-generated electricity, green power it can now offer to companies that are making it a core requirement on where they’ll site their businesses, Beam said.

Today Appalachian Power generates 61% of its electricity by burning coal and 5% from wind and solar. By 2031, Beam says he hopes to get that mix to 51% coal and 25% wind and solar.

There’s also a trickle-down effect. Big tech companies are pushing their suppliers to go green. Apple, which said last month that 100% of the electricity it uses for its facilities and data centers comes from renewables, says nearly two dozen of its suppliers — such as manufacturers of batteries, keyboards and lenses — have also made a commitment to 100% renewable energy.

“The smart ones are seeing it as a competitive advantage,” said Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of environment, policy and social initiatives and former head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under the Obama Administration.
“They know they have an edge in competing for Apple’s business.”

Amazon, Microsoft in Virginia

The biggest energy companies are changing their policies to court big tech energy buyers, who can often promise 20-year contracts.

Three years ago, Amazon wanted to build a new data center in northern Virginia. Because of its commitment to 100% renewable energy, it required that center to be run on electricity generated by wind or solar.

Richmond, Va.-based Dominion Energy, the local utility, didn’t have any way for Amazon to source all its electricity from solar. So it created a special power purchase agreement that allowed the Seattle company to contract for 100% renewable electricity, something that wasn’t previously possible in Virginia.

“We thought about it, we understood their reasoning, we convinced ourselves that it was in our best interests to do it and we ended up signing,” said Greg Morgan, director of customer rates and regulations for Dominion.

Last month Microsoft announced it is contracting to buy electricity from a giant solar array in Virginia in what will be the largest ever corporate purchase of solar energy in the United States and will double the state’s solar capacity.

Other buyers are following. When it goes online in 2019, the solar array in Spotsylvania county, southwest of Washington D.C, will produce 500 megawatts of electricity, with Microsoft buying 315 megawatts. Customers are already lined up for the megawatts it won’t be using, said Microsoft. The deal will bring Microsoft’s total purchase of renewable energy globally up to 1.2 gigawatts.

A public shaming

The tech push towards renewable began in earnest in 2011, when Greenpeace released a report calling out data centers for being huge users of electricity created by non-renewable sources. It came at an opportune time. Going green fit tech’s corporate ethos. The companies were also flush with cash, making it easier for them to make choices that at least in the beginning were more expensive.

“Over the last few years, the tech companies have knowingly and willingly paid a premium for green power and they’ve been willing to do so because it advanced their self-stated goals,” said Dominion’s Morgan.

Data centers that store racks of iCloud and Google Photos servers use just 1.8% of the United States’ overall energy, according to Arman Shehabi, author of a Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory 2016 report on data center energy usage.

But demand to source these from green energy has changed the mix.

Close to 50% of corporate investment in offsite renewable energy in the United States has been from tech companies, the highest of all market segments, said John Hoekstra, vice president at Schneider Electric, a Paris-based energy management and automation company.

Walmart, Budweiser

But other big corporate buyers of electricity have set similar goals. Walmart was one of the first Fortune 500 companies to make a commitment to going 100% renewable, in 2005, said Sam Kimmins at The Climate Group and head of RE100, which sets standards for companies making green energy commitments. Walmart recently said it gets 28% of its global electric needs from renewable energy and wants to hit 50% by 2025.

Last year Budweiser announced that it would be 100% powered by renewable energy by 2025. General Motors plans to get there by 2050.

It’s become such a movement that last year, U.S. corporations bought more renewable power than utilities did, said Timothy Fox, vice president at ClearView Energy Partners, an energy consulting company.

Today, corporate America is happy to throw its weight around, said Bryn Baker, the World Wildlife Fund’s deputy director of renewable energy. “Companies are coming in and saying, ‘If you want us to be here, you have to give us access to clean energy.’”