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RMI: 2015 Was the Year of the First-Time Corporate Energy Buyer

March 29, 2016 By Cheryl Kaften

According to research results released recently by the Boulder, Colorado-based Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), more than 20 U.S. corporations of all sizes announced renewable energy deals last year – and 15 of them were first-time buyers, accounting for 67 percent of the 2015 market.

Among the most active buyers were Amazon, Equinix, Owens Corning, Dow Chemical, Switch, Procter & Gamble, Kaiser Permanente, HP, Starwood, Philips, General Motors, Cisco Systems, and Bloomberg.

“Over the past two years, companies outside of the Fortune 500 have gotten more involved in the market,” explained Anthony Teixeira, a senior associate at RMI. “After accounting for only 8 percent of corporate renewable purchases through 2013, companies outside the Fortune 500 signed 25 percent of the contracted volume in 2014–2015.”

And less than two months into 2016, three first-time business buyers announced deals:

  • Steelcase, an office furniture company based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, bought for 25 megawatts (MW) of wind generation;
  • Lockheed Martin, a global security and aerospace company with headquarters in Bethesda, Maryland, purchased 30 MW of solar; and
  • Invenergy, a power generation and energy storage firm doing business out of Chicago, closed on 120 MW of wind with 3M.

This flood of first-time buyers is a powerful sign of the market maturing, RMI asserts, with more first-time buyers to follow.

Lily Donge, a principal at the Institute’s Business Resource Center (BRC), said: “The moment a first-time buyer walks into any marketplace, we know that all market participants are working hard to make a good first impression. The buyers may well go for another purchase—in this case a solar or wind project—but just as importantly, their first-time deal and then repeat deals will be strong signals telling other major corporations that this is the market to be in.”

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