Smaller enterprises want energy developers to spread the green, allowing them to get in on the renewable wave rolling through America. The dynamic has made it easier for larger corporations with more demand to buy wind and solar electricity but it has nudged out the less brawnier brands.
The guys at Google and Facebook, for example, are stimulating the need for wind and solar energy that they are using to feed their electricity-starved data centers. The developers of those energy projects, in return, are getting solid customers that are buying their output at a fixed price over a certain period of years.
But individual commercial and industrial customers aren’t generating the type of demand that can propel big energy projects into the market. Now, though, that may change. The same so-called power purchase agreements that are used to attract the likes of Microsoft, Intel and SAP can also be parceled out to smaller businesses, albeit in much smaller blocks of energy and for much shorter time frames.
“We connect the corporate community to power purchase agreements,” says Paul Schuster managing director for Altenex, a unit of Edison Energy, in an interview. “We have noticed those larger-to-mid-sized energy users need to achieve cost efficiencies, which can be done by buying smaller blocks of renewable electricity.”
A traditional power purchase agreement, for example, might require a company to buy 100 megawatts and it would last 20 years. But the contract now offered to the smaller players might be for 10 megawatts over 10 years.
So how does all this work? A wind developer can’t go forward until it knows that it can sell its output into the market at a fair price. Because there are tax breaks for both building the project and buying the output, developers have proved able to sell that product into wholesale markets.
Let’s say it is an insurance company or a bank that buys the bulk of the wholesale power before it would be resold into retail markets: They often line up the major corporate outlets or Internet giants and contract with them to sell the energy at fixed prices over a set number of years. What Altenex is doing is going to that insurer or banker — in this example — and offering to market smaller blocks of electricity to commercial and industrial businesses.
“The return on equity should be infinite,” says Schuster. “Customers, in fact, are not putting down any upfront capital. Hopefully, they are buying renewable energy at the same cost or lower cost than they are paying for fossil energy.”
Is the corporate green market on fertile ground? PriceWaterhouseCoopers says that it has grown over the last 24 months and that it will continue to expand. Seventy-two percent of the companies it surveyed said that they are pursuing renewables, noting that they want to be more sustainable and to use green energy to hedge against volatile energy prices.
Green electricity sales in the form of voluntary power purchase agreements grew by 4% in 2015, adds the National Energy Renewable Laboratory. Contracted green power sales from those deals grew by 13% in 2015, it notes, and now total 10.2 million megawatt hours.
The larger companies are the main drivers with the likes of General Motors, Hewlett Packard, Johnson & Johnson, Tata Motors and Walmart setting a goal to run their entire operations using green energy. That includes a number of different options — everything from investing directly into deals to buying their electricity through power purchase agreements.
Austin-based TreeHouse, a home improvement retailer focused on eco-friendly construction materials, has selected Dallas as its first stop outside its hip hometown. Tuesday, it will announce plans to open a store in early 2017 in a new shopping center in North Dallas.
TreeHouse CEO and co-founder Jason Ballard believes he can sell the world on eco-friendly homes in the same way that Tesla is broadening the customer base for electric cars. As the first retailer that Tesla has authorized to sell the Powerwall, its battery for the house, TreeHouse is already a powerhouse of sustainable good. They are also one of the top-selling retailers of Nest smart-home products, Ballard said.
“We resist being a niche company,” Ballard said. “We’re not just for customers with dreadlocks and card-carrying members of environmental groups. We’re going to prove with the Dallas store that we’re not a store for special people, we’re a store for everyone.”
Single-store sales have increased 35 percent every year, he said, without disclosing annual sales. Inc. Magazine said last fall that the store was on track to do $10 million in 2015.
Nothing quite like eggs in the morning for breakfast. Except maybe eggs with a side of…Kevin Bacon.
This new video posted today by the American Egg Board already has over 30,000 views.
According toAdweek, this campaign was created to promote the consumption of eggs in America. “Kevin Bacon brings real star power to the world of eggs and we think consumers are going to love this clever new version of bacon and eggs,” said Kevin Burkum, the American Egg Board’s senior vice president of marketing. “And there’s no better time to talk about eggs with consumption at its highest level in three decades and Easter right around the corner.”
Okay, we admit there is not much “Green” about this campaign, so enjoy the video and ride your bike to a nearby farmer and have a nice breakfast of local eggs and faux bacon.
How did an art school grad, yoga instructor, who was so against car culture that she didn’t get her drivers license until she was 28 end up the CEO of a trucking company?
We didn’t believe it either.
32 year-old Caitlin Welby may not be the youngest CEO, but this drifter’s “road less traveled” recently landed her squarely in the driver’s seat of a sixty year old trucking company founded by her grandfather.
RFX (which stands for Refrigerated Food Express) was founded in 1952 by Welby’s grandfather, Thomas E. Welby, Sr. and then run by her grandmother and her father until his death in 2000.
The self-described punk rock artist was repulsed by the dirty business of trucking and preferred to wander the planet than to step foot near her father’s business—which she felt was destroying the planet.
After spending her twenties traveling as a countercultural, eco-conscious bohemian, Welby gravitated toward leadership training and found a somewhat unsettling affinity toward the occasional company board meetings she would attend as her family’s representative. It wasn’t an overnight trip, but with a lot of encouragement from interim CEO Jim Morse, a light slowly started flashing on the dashboard, so to speak, and Welby realized her strongly-held personal values could be a voice of dissent and rebellion to the business or perhaps a voice of change.
We look forward to following along on this journey with Caitlin Welby and will provide updates along the way.
Two beekeepers in Australia, Cedar Anderson and Stuart Anderson, have invented a new sort of hive that could revolutionize Beekeeping traditional methods. They have invented the FLOWHive, a special hive that can put your honey “on tap” directly from your hive box. It’s main benefit being that it can pour honey out of the combs without upsetting the bees. The FLOWhive contains special inserts that will fit into normal hives or, if you get the whole FLOWhive system, you will have their special wooden outer box complete with windows and access points that will ensure you know exactly when to harvest the honey and have a full supply as soon as it is ready to go.
There are a lot of skeptics in their beekeeping community who say it is unlikely to work without a lot of mess and cleanup needed. Some comment in the beekeeping forums that they would rather wait and see before jumping to buy this sort of invention.
The key to the system is a special imitation of the traditional comb that splits apart when you turn the tap on the back of the hive. The inventors say that they can get their honey without the bees even noticing that they are there. The stress on the bees is greatly reduced and the work of harvesting honey is made super easy and simple.
The video on you tube shows an appealing looking box with two spouts on the back that literally pour the honey out like beer on tap. The rest of the requirements of beekeeping apply as per usual; it is only the method of harvesting that is affected. So beginner beekeepers will still need to learn all the basics of maintaining a healthy hive. It’s a wonder that this hasn’t already been invented years ago!
The Andersons are putting their invention on Indiegogo on Feb 23 2015 and hope that people with support them in their quest to build a manufacturing production line for their FLOWhive to be shipped around the world. They ask that you go to their Facebook page and watch the video and click “like” if you like their idea. The buzz needs to get out there – if this invention works as claimed then I will be in line to get one for sure. It’s a great idea and worth checking out. They have a video that shows their hive in action and also a website with a FAQ to answer all the basic questions about the different configurations of their products. It is homey yet professional and I am sure if they are successful with their Indiegogo crowd funding they will be on the road to a business boon for beekeeping. They have over 88 thousand likes on their facebook page already so it seems the support is likely to be there. Who wouldn’t want fresh honey on tap?