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Apple, Walmart highlight big-name corporations’ move to renewables

Apple, Walmart highlight big-name corporations’ move to renewables

The next time you download a song from iTunes, you can rest assured that renewable energy is 100 percent behind it.

Recently, high-tech giant Apple, the largest-ever U.S. company based on stock value, said that its data centers are now 100 percent powered by renewable energy. The company’s goal, it says, is to power every one of its facilities with energy from renewable sources, including wind, solar, hydro, and geothermal.

Apple is not the only big-name corporation to make news with renewables usage. It’s part of a trend, and that trend will be a central topic in May at the WINDPOWER 2013 Conference & Exhibition. (More on that below.) Meanwhile, the number one global retailer, Walmart, also is taking steps toward becoming 100 percent powered by renewables.

Add to that another of the biggest names in 21st-Century American business: Google, which is pursuing renewable energy on all fronts, and not necessarily in orthodox ways. Google has entered into power purchase agreements for output from an Atlantic Power wind project and from a NextEra wind farm, both of which are located in Oklahoma, home to one of the tech giant’s data centers. Entering PPAs is generally the arena of utilities, but Google doesn’t necessarily think of itself as conventional.

And it’s taken its renewables play a step further. Last November it got into the wind business. Google made a $75 million equity investment in RPM Access, LLC’s Rippey Wind Farm in Iowa, also where the technology firm has a data center. To Google, renewable energy isn’t only the right thing to do: it’s a good investment.

Google’s renewables vision and investment don’t stop there. The company is also behind the Atlantic Wind Connection, an ambitious project to build a north-south offshore transmission backbone along part of the East Coast in order to facilitate the build-out of offshore wind projects. Representatives from both Google and Walmart are featured speakers at a WINDPOWER general session on the topic (see below).

Google. Apple. Walmart. Believe it or not, that’s just where the list starts. For several years now, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been keeping track of corporate renewable energy purchasers (generally through renewable energy credits, or RECs) via a Green Power Purchasers list. EPA’s green power website also does a good job of tracking the continual flow of news on the topic.

Even government has jumped on the renewable-energy bandwagon. One recent example: Washington, D.C.’s city government is now 100 percent green powered.

Given all such news, it’s no surprise that the WINDPOWER Conference & Exhibition, which always keeps current and cutting-edge with its program, will examine the trend in a big way. The “Corporate Purchasers of Wind Power Panel” will feature representatives from Google, Walmart, Bloomberg, and Motorola. Also represented will be a driving force in the trend—WindMade, the relatively new consumer label that recognizes wind power users.

More information on that general session and others is available online. For more information about WINDPOWER 2013, which takes place May 5-8 in Chicago, Ill., go to www.windpowerexpo.org.

Related articles:

Investor opinion: Colorado can lead in renewable energy, February 19, 2013
Microsoft, Sprint join growing list of companies calling on Congress to extend PTC, June 14, 2012
Major U.S. consumer brands like Nike on extending the PTC: Just Do It!, February 15, 2012
New Belgium wind-powered beer arrives in nation's capital, August 23, 2011
Wind will power gymnastics championships, August 16, 2011
Two-thirds of consumers would pay more for products made with wind energy, global survey finds, July 6, 2011
WindMade(tm) label standard presented to U.S. market, June 15, 2011

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