Coalition aims to change ‘policy landscape,’ expand access

Source: Christa Marshall, E&E News reporter • Posted: Friday, September 8, 2017

Microsoft Corp., Walmart and some of the nation’s other largest companies are joining forces to expand access to renewable energy by changing the “policy landscape.”

The Advanced Energy Buyers Group will work to help companies and public entities like schools purchase renewable energy and “advanced energy” resources such as fuel cells or demand response, according to a release. The policy focus distinguishes the group from other business coalitions that are centered more on setting initial corporate sustainability targets.

The group also includes Inc., Lockheed Martin Corp., Inc. and Aligned Energy LLC.

More than 70 Fortune 100 companies have set renewable energy or sustainability targets, but federal and state policies often are outdated and need to change for businesses to reach their goals, said Advanced Energy Economy, which is launching the coalition today.

“Antiquated market and regulatory barriers stand in the way,” said Malcolm Woolf, senior vice president at AEE.

AEE released an outline of policies the coalition may focus on, including renewable energy tariffs and on-site power purchase agreements. A steering committee for the buyers group will decide which policies to target, AEE said.

“As Microsoft buys more renewable power, we are looking for ways to make these energy sources more affordable and accessible — for ourselves as well as other businesses and households,” said Rob Bernard, chief environmental strategist at Microsoft.

The company is one several moving to direct purchases of alternative energy. Microsoft recently exited a local Washington state utility to contract directly with renewable suppliers (Climatewire, July 19).