January 30, 2008 Technology giant Intel has announced it will purchase more than 1.3 billion kilowatt hours a year of renewable energy certificates, making it the single-largest corporate purchaser of green power in the US. The decision is part of a Intel's multi-faceted approach to reduce impact on the environment, and places the company at the top of the EPA's Green Power Partners latest Green Power Partners Top 25 list.
The EPA’s Green Power Partnership program encourages and recognizes voluntary green power purchases as a way to reduce the impact of conventional electricity use. Intel hopes the record-setting purchase will help stimulate the market for green power amongst other large organizations, thereby leading to additional generating capacity and ultimately, lower costs.
The purchase also puts Intel at the No. 1 spot on EPA’s Fortune 500 Green Power Partners list where its joined by PepsiCo in second place and Wells Fargo & Company in third. Whole Foods Market, The Pepsi Bottling Group, Johnson & Johnson, Cisco Systems, Kohl’s Department Stores, Starbucks and DuPont Company make up the top 10.
Collectively the 53 Fortune 500 companies on the list purchase more than six billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of green power annually - enough to offset the carbon dioxide emissions from 570 million gallons of gasoline each year.
Renewable energy certificates, or RECs, are the “currency” of the renewable energy market. They work by allowing companies to buy environmental commodities that represent proof that 1 megawatt-hour (MWh) of electricity was generated from an eligible renewable energy resource. These certificates can be sold and traded and the owner of the REC can claim to have purchased renewable energy. Traditional carbon trading programs promote low-carbon technologies by increasing the cost of emitting carbon however RECs aim to incentivize carbon-neutral renewable energy by providing a production subsidy to electricity generated from renewable sources. For each megawatt produced, the green energy is fed into the electrical grid and the accompanying REC can then be sold on the open market.
The EPA estimates that Intel's REC purchase has the equivalent environmental impact of taking more than 185,000 passenger cars off the road each year, or avoiding the amount of electricity needed to power more than 130,000 average American homes annually. Intel’s purchase includes a portfolio of wind, solar, small hydro-electric and biomass sources and will be handled by Sterling Planet, a national supplier of renewable energy, energy efficiency and low-carbon solutions. The purchase will also be certified by the non-profit Center for Resource Solutions’ Green-e program which certifies and verifies green power products.