Creating Change for a Clean Energy Future Together

Not long after I started at Adobe in 2013, I fondly recall sitting in a room at Symantec in Sunnyvale with my peers from Facebook, Autodesk, eBay, Salesforce, and Hewlett-Packard in a meeting called by BSR to figure out the Future of Internet Power (FOIP), now an initiative of the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance.  At that time, the FoIP was not a tangible thing.  We knew one thing: it meant powering our digital supply chain – data centers – with renewable energy.   

In 2014, after aligning with all internal stakeholders, Adobe decided to pursue instead a clear, focused strategy that was intended to responsibly meet our goals and bring true, renewable energy not to just our business, but also to the communities where we work and live.  This means offsets or unbundled renewable energy credits (RECs) are not part of any contingency:  we are working on decarbonizing our grids, powering our operations directly with renewable energy, and fuel switching – or #electrifyeverything – to meet our ambitions. 

Adobe is a part of an increasingly energy intensive industry and has made a conscious effort to reduce its impact on the environment through strategies to improve operational and energy efficiency and renewable energy procurement. Setting ambitious targets—like achieving 100% renewable energy by 2035, without the use of unbundled RECs or offsets—requires collaborating with our peers and industry groups. The Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA) has provided Adobe the platform to learn best practices and engage like-minded organizations, but the goal is to go beyond just achieving our science-based targets. 

Ultimately, participating in REBA provides an opportunity to create fundamental change in the energy landscape.  And that is what is necessary.  Again, the goal should not be to simply offset our carbon footprint, but to fundamentally change it: decrease consumption through energy efficiency, switch from fossil fuels to clean energy when possible, and work together to get renewable electricity powering the grids in our communities.  

REBA has the expertise through its founding members to be able to help you reach your renewable energy goals.  When it comes to sustainability, working together allows us to make bigger strides toward our shared sustainability goals—and collaboration is the only way forward.  We all start this journey with many questions and few answers, but the answers are out there. All you have to do is join us. 

Learning the Fundamentals of Renewable Energy Procurement

Are you new to renewable energy procurement and perhaps a little overwhelmed by all its complexities? I was too back in 2015, after Akamai Technologies committed to powering 50% of its global network operations with renewable energy. As Akamai’s senior director of environmental sustainability at the time, I was tasked with executing the goal. Up to that point, we had been working with a consulting firm to help us develop a goal that made sense for Akamai’s operational scenario. The expectation was that they would also help us through the procurement process, but it was important to understand for myself the fundamentals of renewable energy procurement, so that I could lead the initiative rather than rely solely on our consultant. 

There’s an ancient saying that when the student is ready, the master appears. The master is the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA) Buyers Boot Camp. At the two and a half-day intensive, confidential, no-sales setting, I learned from those who have been through the process and want to share their experiences and lessons learned. Topics covered are soup-to-nuts that give you the full picture of the renewable energy procurement process starting with understanding why you and other companies have set a renewable energy goal.  

You will have the opportunity to learn about electricity markets and how electricity is priced, which are both really interesting. The sections on how to choose legal counsel and the key elements of a power purchase agreement contract may convince you that a career in law is your true calling! You’ll walk away understanding how to develop an effective RFP, evaluate project proposals and present the business case to your CFO. Even the experienced buyers in the group benefit from filling in knowledge gaps, fine-tuning procurement strategy, and meeting other buyers who could be future project collaborators. There is a separate boot camp for renewable energy project developers too, which helps to elucidate the corporate buyer’s mindset, motivations and specific needs, which are very different from the traditional utility buyer. 

You’re also in for a special treat as the boot camp’s venue, the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) headquarters in stunning Basalt, CO, inspires the vision of efficient, renewable energy-powered operations with building design integrated with its natural surroundings. When he’s in town, RMI co-founder, Amory Lovins, offers up a private tour of the original headquarters highlighting the concepts of efficient, natural, integrated design. In addition to breathing the crisp mountain air, you’ll enjoy healthy local fare and discuss the day’s learnings with your classmates at one of the nearby restaurants. 

After I took the boot camp, I went on to lead the execution of three power purchase agreements and can say that I put everything I learned into practice. The boot camp was so valuable that I wanted to share my experience and now regularly serve on the faculty. I hope to see you there soon! 

Nicola Peill-Moelter, Ph.D.
Board of Directors, REBA
Director of Sustainability Innovation, VMware, Inc.

Empowering Renewable Energy Buyers

Welcome REBA members and potential future members! If you’ve landed on this blog that means you must want to be a part of an organization that is actively working together to drive necessary and transformational change in the future of energy. Wow! Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?  

When I first started out, looking over the ever-changing and often-complicated world of renewable energy, I really wished there was a group out there that could help navigate success and impact from just talking the talk. In 2017, I was lucky enough to be introduced to the Business Renewable Center (BRC) that helped me get my feet underneath me on this front, which has evolved into the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA) and has been the exact organization the industry needs to keep pushing us forward. Seriously, find me one other place that gathers THE world experts in VPPAs, on-site generation, REC-swaps, IFRS accounting models, negative pricing, additionality…all to help your organization understand and make good decisions in this space. You can’t! 

This year, I have the unique opportunity to both work at a company like Saint-Gobain, which has been around for more than 350 years and Chair the Advisory Board for an organization in its very first year. This has provided me with a truly unique perspective on the state of the world. Already, Saint-Gobain has learned so much from other member companies, be they established giants like GM and Disney, or “newer” companies (relatively speaking) like Google and Microsoft. Thankfully, REBA has brought us together where can learn from their leadership and grow. 

While REBA as an industry trade group is technically new, the combined knowledge on renewable energy amongst our members is unmatched in depth, breadth, and expertise. That should be enough for anyone considering renewable energy for their company to join, but if it’s not, know that we aren’t resting on our past experiences alone. As an Advisory Board, we are actively working to making REBA even better. Our five committees, made up of those same experts, are pushing REBA to develop even more impactful programs, policy positions, and even exploring opportunities from the international markets and strengthening our supply chains. This organization is truly set to serve the needs of the market today and pushing past we’ve already been into the places the world needs us to go.  

I couldn’t be more proud that Saint-Gobain is part of REBA and I know what this group can achieve together will be simply remarkable. Welcome one and all!  

Ryan Spies
Advisory Board Chair, REBA
Director of Sustainability, Energy and Stewardship, Saint-Gobain North America

Unlocking Renewable Energy for All

When I joined Google, in 2007, wind and solar were still nascent technologies, often too expensive to make business sense for most companies. Today, though, we’re living in a whole different world. Clean energy is outcompeting fossil fuels on grids around the globe and companies and organizations are responding by buying record-setting amounts of clean power. For Google, 2018 was the second year in a row in which we matched 100 percent of our global electricity consumption with renewable sources. It’s truly amazing that renewable energy has come so far, so fast. 

And yet, the degree of progress has varied from organization to organization. Larger companies like Google have been able to purchase clean energy because we have the scale, resources, and expertise to sign complex, long-term deals or partner directly with utilities or governments. However, for most organizations, their energy procurement hasn’t changed much since renewables burst onto the scene. The owners of your neighborhood bakery, for example, probably have no more ability to determine the source of their electricity than they did a decade ago. Renewable energy may be cheap, but it’s still often difficult to access.    

The Renewable Energy Buyers’ Alliance (REBA) has the power to open the floodgates. To address climate change, we urgently need to make it simple for any organization — from bakeries on up to retailers, hospitals, and corporations — to buy low-cost renewable energy. We’ll get there by working together, across industries and sectors, to systematically overcome every barrier — from insufficient buyer education to outdated policies — standing in the way of widespread access to carbon-free electricity. Ultimately, choosing renewable energy should be as easy as clicking a button.  

As REBA’s Board Chair, I’m most inspired today by the fact that a group like ours even exists. Over four hundred of the world’s most sophisticated energy buyers and service providers, as well as four of the top NGOs working in energy, have come together in support of a single, focused mission: democratize renewable energy. When I got into this business, it would have been unimaginable for so many companies and other leaders to come together with so much ambition. Now, the opportunity in front of us is not only real, but achievable. So let’s get to work, speak with one voice, and grow the ranks of the world’s renewable energy buyers far and wide.  

Michael Terrell
Board Chair, REBA
Head of Energy Market Strategy, Google