Learning the Fundamentals of Renewable Energy Procurement

Nicola Peill-Moelter, Ph.D. Board of Directors, REBA Director of Sustainability Innovation, VMware, Inc.
Sep 25, 2019 12:15 PM ET
Article

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!