Consumer Brands and Investors Attend State Energy Official Meeting to Advocate Clean Energy Policies
February 3, 2015 /3BL Media/ - Today state energy officials from twelve states, including Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, and Pennsylvania met with eBay, General Mills and Unilever to discuss corporate adoption of renewable energy and energy efficiency, and the implications for state policy, at the National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO) 2015 Energy Policy Outlook Conference.
The three consumer brands are members of Ceres’ Business for Innovative Climate And Energy Policy coalition. Together with Impax Asset Management and Calvert Investments, the companies and investors met with energy officials to detail their efforts to expand clean energy investment, and the polices needed to help them do more, such as third-party power purchase agreements, state renewable portfolio standards and the Clean Power Plan.
Though the meeting employed Chatham House Rules, meeting participants offered the following comments about the first-of-its-kind encounter involving consumer brands and investors, cosponsored by Ceres and NASEO.
"Eliminating energy waste is a no-regrets decision for Michigan," said Michigan Energy Office Director, Robert Jackson. "We’ve looked at the issues closely and believe there is more technical potential in both energy waste elimination, renewable energy, and natural gas generation than what is currently in place in Michigan. We’re eager to partner with corporations and investors to help tap some of that potential.”
“Unilever has reduced its manufacturing emissions over 30% in the past five years and we’re committed to going even further,” said Stefani Millie Grant, manager of state government relations & external affairs, Unilever North America. “We have begun to build a portfolio of renewable energy projects to meet the needs of 100% of our U.S. operations. Unilever and other leading companies are showing what’s possible and we support smart energy policies in line with these commitments.”
“eBay is committed to achieving its clean energy targets,” said Caitlin Brosseau, senior manager of government affairs. “As part of this commitment we worked with the Utah legislature to pass a bill making contracting for renewable power possible in the state.” The legislation has enabled eBay to power its data center in South Jordan, Utah with solar, fuel cells and waste heat.
“As investors in a wide range of companies—from utilities to consumer goods companies—we’re always dismayed to hear the antiquated argument that policies intended to reduce pollution are bad for business,” said Stu Dalheim, a vice president at Calvert Investments, which is a member of Ceres’ Investor Network on Climate Risk. “In fact, we believe the standards EPA has proposed for power plant carbon emissions provide an opportunity to scale policies that work and catalyze corporate clean energy efforts.”
"Some policymakers worry about business opposition to clean energy,' said Brandon Smithwood, a senior manager on Ceres' policy team. "But these companies and investors are ahead of even the most ambitious policies. Clean energy is the new business norm."
Policy Support Needed for Corporate Clean Energy Deployment
Unilever and eBay’s commitment to clean energy is a growing trend. According to a recent report, Power Forward 2.0, 43 percent of Fortune 500 companies have a greenhouse gas goal, renewable energy goal, or energy efficiency goal. Among the largest Fortune 100 companies, 60 percent have goals and are saving a combined $1.1 billion in energy costs annually through their efforts.
Currently several states, including Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina have restrictions which preclude companies and homeowners from contracting with non-utility providers of renewable energy, in a third-party power purchase agreement (PPA). Power Forward 2.0 found that the ability to enter these contracts is key to many companies’ clean energy strategies.
State renewable portfolio standards, which are in place in a majority of US states, are also identified in Power Forward 2.0 as important policies for facilitating corporate renewable energy adoption. These standards have been the target of legislative attacks in several states recently, but they are likely to be a key component of many states’ compliance with pending federal rules on carbon emissions from power plants.
Unilever was among 220 businesses that signed a letter of support for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) rule on carbon emissions from power plants.
"Due to the diversity of opinion among the states, NASEO has not taken a position on EPA's proposed carbon rules for existing power plants," said David Terry, Executive Director of the National Association of State Energy Officials. "However, our members have a track record of implementing robust energy efficiency programs in partnership with the private sector. The states are united in their commitment to ensure EPA's proposed rule maintains electric system reliability and allows states to maximize cost-effective energy efficiency and renewable energy efforts as one means of compliance should the rule move forward. To this end, we're exited to leverage the growing private sector activity by companies and investors like those in the room today."
Ceres is an advocate for sustainability leadership. Ceres mobilizes a powerful coalition of investors, companies and public interest groups to accelerate and expand the adoption of sustainable business practices and solutions to build a healthy global economy. Ceres directs the Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR), a network of over 100 institutional investors with collective assets totaling more than $13 trillion. Ceres also directs Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy (BICEP), an advocacy coalition of more than 30 businesses committed to working with policy makers to pass meaningful energy and climate legislation. For more information, visit www.ceres.org or follow on Twitter @CeresNews.
NASEO is the only national non-profit association for the governor-designated energy officials from each of the 56 states and territories. Formed by the states in 1986, NASEO facilitates peer learning among state energy officials, serves as a resource for and about state energy offices, and advocates the interests of the state energy offices to Congress and federal agencies.