What the Big Co-op Members Want

Wells Fargo and Starbucks are among the co-op-served companies committing to go to 100 percent renewable energy. (Photo By: Michael W. Kahn)

Wells Fargo and Starbucks are among the co-op-served companies committing to go to 100 percent renewable energy. (Photo By: Michael W. Kahn)

SAN DIEGO—From Wells Fargo to Starbucks, some of the nation's most familiar corporations are committing to go to 100 percent renewable energy. Think that's going to impact your co-op?

You'd best believe it, said Ken Black, co-chairman of E Source, which advises utilities and large energy users.

Black told the Touchstone Energy® Cooperatives NET 2017 that 87 companies have already signed on to a global initiative called RE 100. Each has publicly committed to have all renewable power at every one of their facilities worldwide.

"And guess what: They're going to do it with you or without you," Black told co-op key account executives.

"I'd rather be part of the solution than part of the problem."

That was just one of the trends Black discussed during a Jan. 30 session at the Loews Coronado Bay Resort. He said commercial and industrial members have "a real interest" in energy storage.

"They like it for a variety of reasons. There's some cost savings, but they see some big opportunities with demand response, backup and decarbonization."

C&I members also want more rate options. "They want to control their destiny," Black said, urging co-ops to consider offering green options and energy efficiency. "We need to find new ways to deal in a very flexible way, rather than say, 'This is the way we do it.' "

And Black said that today "energy efficiency and conservation is now the norm."

"You can't go to a store and replace any appliance for your home and it not be far more energy efficient than the one you're replacing," he said. "And the awareness about energy conservation is really surfacing. I think it's going to be around for some time—and millennials are really all over that."

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