Alta Energy recently exhibited at the GreenBiz Forum 16 in Scottsdale, AZ, February 23 – 25 2016. The perfect weather and inspirational surroundings were nearly ignored by the 700+ passionate attendees who were eager to come together, share stories and support each other on their current and future endeavors. Attendees included a mix of well-known companies, such as GM, Genentech, SealedAir, Dow Chemical, Boeing, Home Depot, and many others, as well as suppliers of products and services, educational institutions and nonprofit groups. What is unique about the GreenBiz event is that it brings together numerous leading companies with the size, resources and mandates to undertake sustainability on a large scale. In short, these companies have the ability to move a material part of the corporate marketplace to broader action on sustainability.
We were inspired by some of the stories we heard. A sampling of topics discussed included: Sustainability Driving Business Transformation, Consumer Engagement and Shareholder Value, Climate Change Mitigation, the Circular Economy, Waste Reduction Strategies, and Water and Forestry Stewardship.
We were most interested to learn what companies were doing to manage greenhouse gas emissions and meet their clean energy goals. Here are our top takeaways from the event:
1) Once an organization completes a renewable energy project, they tend to want to do more deployments. There is a knowledge curve in the research, decision-making and execution process. It is a maze that once navigated becomes more familiar to decision-makers. But the overall advice from those who have made it through the maze was to seek guidance from experts in the industry.
2) We saw a “follow the leader” trend with respect to sustainability initiatives. When well-known companies have gone big with sustainability, such as IT companies Facebook and HP, and manufacturers GM and 3M, they provide credibility and pave the way for other companies to follow suit. The renewable energy industry should expect a lot of new companies undertaking projects over the coming months and years.
3) One consistent piece of advice was the importance of internal communications. Wherever the project is being initiated, it is vital to bring the key organization stakeholders along. Understanding other departments’ risks and objections, taking the time to educate all parties, and involving the finance department in the process early are keys to success.
4) Beyond onsite renewable energy generation, there was interest in offsite renewables and energy storage. Our view is that with respect to offsite renewables and particularly energy storage, there is more interest than action at this point. However, we expect momentum will greatly accelerate over the coming years.
5) There were some concerns over recent utilities actions on “net energy metering” policies (notably the changes in Nevada). There was a feeling that companies need to keep a united front on pressuring utilities and policy makers to continue supporting favorable renewable energy policies.
6) Much discussion revolved around the recent Federal 30% Investment Tax Credit (“ITC”) extension and how it has opened the door for continued clean energy development. The panic of completing projects by the end of 2016 (the prior ITC expiration) has ended, and many companies plan to take advantage of the new ITC timeline – through 2023 — to evaluate the best opportunities across their organizations.
The ITC extension does not mean there is a lot of time to put off moving forward with renewable energy projects. In order to take advantage of the ITC across multiple sites, it is wise to start now with a full analysis of the renewable energy potential of the organization. (Read Alta Energy’s white paper, “The Sun Also Rises: The Solar Investment Tax Credit Extension and the New Opportunities to Profitably Deploy Solar” coming soon on our website.)
At Alta Energy, we were interested to hear widespread confirmation at GreenBiz that objective renewable energy analytics and procurement were very much needed. We heard this from companies and renewable energy vendors. We look forward to engaging with more companies to help them deploy renewable energy profitably and efficiently.