Author: 3Degrees Staff

At 3Degrees, we make it possible for businesses and their customers to take urgent action on climate change— providing renewable energy and carbon offset solutions to Fortune 500 companies, utilities, universities, green building firms and other organizations that are working to make their operations more sustainable. And as a certified B Corporation and eight-time winner of the EPA Green Power Supplier of the Year award, we’re primed to deliver custom clean power solutions that will help each organization make an environmental impact. Founded in 2007, 3Degrees is headquartered in San Francisco, California, with offices across the United States.

Utilities hold the key for driving EV adoption

electric car being charged

How Green Power Program participants can help accelerate the journey

Society has until 2030 to slash carbon emissions by 45% to avoid the worst effects of climate change, according to the recent UN IPCC report. Fortunately, the single largest source of emissions in the U.S., the transportation sector, may already have the answer: electric vehicles (EVs). 

Yet today, more than a decade after the first contemporary battery-only EV (BEV) was delivered, less than 0.5% of the world’s 1.2 billion vehicles are EVs. And while EV sales in the U.S. are forecasted to overtake sales of gas-burning vehicles around 2035, they will represent only 42% of total vehicles on the road in 2040. To hit IPCC goals, we must accelerate EV adoption.

What’s slowing us down? One significant challenge is “the awareness gap” in knowledge of EVs on the market: in one study by Strategic Vision, for example, 54% of consumers were not able to name even one EV model. In addition to lack of awareness, there are also consumer concerns around charging and “range anxiety”.

Utilities are recognizing the business value of EVs

While most utilities recognize that they are key players in the transition to EVs and are increasingly active in supporting them, the majority are still early in the journey. According to SEPA, 74% are just getting started with simple initiatives such as providing EV information that can help close the awareness gap and purchasing EVs for their fleets. Only 23% are directly encouraging the purchase and use of EVs through tactics like deploying charging infrastructure and rate incentives, which together speak to consumers’ concerns.

A vigorous EV program can be a huge win for utilities. By accelerating the pace of EV adoption, they stand to gain financially by growing demand for energy and related services, and by improving operational flexibility as EVs become a grid resource.

Another important benefit: EVs can help utilities improve customer satisfaction by saving their customers money through reduced rates, and helping them navigate the barriers to EV purchasing. 

So if utilities have ample motivation to help accelerate EV adoption, what’s their next step? At 3Degrees, we have worked closely with utilities nationwide for over a decade and had a hypothesis that they have a built-in audience for marketing EVs: participants in Green Power Programs (GPPs). These customers have already shown that they are willing to make investments to support sustainability. To test this theory, 3Degrees studied GPP participants from 10 U.S. utilities and compared them to EV owners – and proved our hypothesis.

Many similarities between EV owners and GPP participants 

Our research found that GPP participants and EV owners are very similar across a number of factors.   

  • Higher rates of income and net worth –  both groups tracked above national averages, though the net worth of EV owners averaged 133% higher than GPP participants.
  • Higher levels of education – both EV owners and GPP participants have higher than average college completion rates, though a notably larger percentage of EV owners (65%) are college grads versus GPP participants (49%). 
  • Higher levels of home ownership, home value, and home equity
  • Higher levels of environmental consciousness
  • Higher propensity to spend across lifestyle categories, like gardening, healthy living, books, and luxury retail items

Based on these findings, we then looked for evidence that our hypothesis is playing out in the market and worked with one of 3Degrees’ utility partners to examine its residential GPP participants and EV owners in that service area.

The correlation held up: EV owners were 79% more likely than non-EV owners to be enrolled in that utility’s green power program.

As part of our research, we also compared the demographics of hybrid owners and GPP participants, since hybrids (like EVs) are often purchased on the basis of their lower carbon emissions. Not surprisingly, hybrid owner characteristics lined up well with GPP participants and, in some cases, even better than EV owners. 

In addition to the demographic similarities, GPP participants are also strong targets for EV marketing for another important reason – the best target for any utility program is a customer who already participates in a utility program. They likely read what you send them, they’re engaged with their energy use, and they like trying new programs. 

Utilities and GPP participants can be climate heroes, together

By growing their green power programs and effectively marketing EVs to those participants, utilities can play a significant role in accelerating EV adoption. In the process, both utilities and their customers have the opportunity to become true climate heroes.

 

How Mondelēz International is Achieving an Ambitious Goal to Reduce its Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Roadrunner-construction

Photo: Enel Green Power North America’s Roadrunner project

In 2015, food and beverage giant Mondelēz International set an ambitious goal to reduce its absolute greenhouse gas emissions versus a historic base year in each of its four global operating regions. The company had already made good progress through energy efficiency and other on-site solutions, but these actions alone were not going to be enough to reach its aggressive emissions reduction goal. It needed to invest in additional initiatives in order to close the gap.

To help guide its efforts, Mondelēz International enlisted 3Degrees to conduct an in-depth renewable energy strategy assessment and deliver a global roadmap to achieve the company’s goal, as well as support any resulting implementation work.

Challenges

Mondelēz International had outlined two important criteria:

  1. The company was interested in impact;
  2. There was a strong preference for cost-neutral, or cost-positive, solutions.

After an intensive assessment, 3Degrees presented Mondelēz International with the global strategy roadmap and, within it, highlighted a variety of renewable energy pathways that would meet both of the defined criteria. After reviewing all of the options, there was clearly one solution that was best suited to meet the company’s goals: a virtual power purchase agreement (VPPA) for renewable energy from a new project. 3Degrees quickly got to work to begin the next phase of implementation.

Mondelēz International was interested in impact with a strong preference for cost-neutral, or cost-positive, solutions.

How we helped

To kick off the implementation, we issued an RFP to find the most attractive VPPA for Mondelēz International. By the end of the response period, 48 developers had submitted proposals for a total of 126 projects. 3Degrees carefully vetted each one of these projects, which included:

  • Performing a full qualitative analysis of developer qualifications, which leveraged 3Degrees’ in-house knowledge of the renewable energy developer community;
  • Creating a project evaluation scorecard to gauge each project in terms of project development risk metrics, including permitting, interconnection, financing, and others;
  • Conducting a deep quantitative analysis to select the project that would offer Mondelēz International the best long-term value, while limiting any potential downside.

At the end of the extensive analysis process, 3Degrees recommended Enel Green Power North America’s Roadrunner project, a new 497MW solar farm in Texas, which best met Mondelēz International’s need for an impactful and cost-competitive solution. We then helped the team at Mondelēz International navigate its broad, global executive stakeholder network to gain the necessary alignment and approvals to proceed with the project.

Results

  • Mondelēz International signed a twelve-year virtual power purchase agreement (VPPA) under which the company will purchase the energy delivered to the electricity grid from a 65 MW portion of Enel Green Power North America’s Roadrunner project.
  • The VPPA is Mondelēz International’s largest renewable energy transaction at a global level and its first renewable energy PPA signed in the U.S.
  • The transaction enables Mondelēz International to make substantial progress against its sustainability goals by reducing 80,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions – that’s 5 percent of the company’s global manufacturing emissions.
  • The VPPA will help pave the way for subsequent renewable energy procurements of any kind to help achieve Mondelēz International’s long-term sustainability goals.

“The signing of this VPPA is a major advancement towards achieving our aggressive global emissions reduction goals. We are thrilled about this partnership with Enel Green Power North America to help bring new renewable generation online, and appreciate 3Degrees’ strategic guidance and implementation support that helped make this transaction possible.”

–Erika Schunk Vasconcellos, Global Environmental Manager, Mondelēz International

 

Apple, Akamai, Etsy and Swiss Re partner on largest renewable energy aggregation to date

Wind turbines in the field at dusk

PJM-summary-graphic

While many companies seek to make a demonstrable impact on climate change by bringing new renewable energy projects into their electricity supply portfolio, this aspiration has been challenging for companies with smaller or geographically distributed loads whose needs are too small to enable a project to come to fruition. Enter aggregation.

By joining together, smaller energy users can create enough buying power to make a material impact on a project’s financial outlook, attracting the attention of project developers and opening this impactful solution to a wider range of companies.  In addition, by bringing multiple companies into a single procurement, aggregation has the ability to reduce transaction costs and create economies of scale.

In 2018, 3Degrees supported Apple, Akamai Technologies (Akamai), Etsy and Swiss Re as they leveraged their collective buying power in the largest aggregated corporate renewable energy transaction to date . This aggregation resulted in six power purchase agreements – the largest one greater than 130 MW and the smallest less than 5 MW. The companies’ efforts demonstrate how corporate energy buyers of all sizes can successfully purchase renewable energy directly from new renewable projects.

Challenges

News in the corporate renewable energy space is often dominated by announcements of mega-purchases, where a large energy user strikes a deal with the developer of a large wind or solar project.  These announcements send an implicit message that the economic and environmental benefits of contracting with large renewable energy projects are only available to the largest of electricity users. Fortunately, the market is evolving to serve buyers of all sizes. Aggregated purchasing is one effective option gaining traction among buyers with diverse needs.

“Etsy is excited to be a part of a project that will benefit both the planet and our customers. This agreement will help Etsy to meet our goal of powering operations with 100% renewable electricity while also innovating by paving the way for small companies to participate in the renewable energy market.” 

–Rachel Glaser, Etsy Chief Financial Officer

This aggregation came together when four prospective energy buyers – Apple, Akamai, Etsy and Swiss Re – decided to act jointly to purchase renewable energy in the PJM energy market.1 The participants recognized their common aims through their already-active work in the energy sustainability space – variously as buyer-supplier companies, peer-to-peer colleagues, and as clients of 3Degrees. They also shared a desire to help prove new renewable energy purchasing models so as to enable other companies to secure renewable supply more quickly and easily. These four companies, dubbed The PJM Gang, had diverse energy needs but also had corporate renewable energy goals with similar timing requirements and a consistent view toward the importance of making an impact with their purchase.  

After the team of buyers was in place, 3Degrees was tasked with finding the perfect blend of projects in terms of size, technology, location, economics and timing. While generally aligned, each company had unique needs. It was also essential to ensure that all four buyers were ready and willing to move cohesively through the procurement to contract execution.  

“Through this aggregation and 3Degrees’ support, Swiss Re is able to reduce its carbon footprint, which helps us to live up to our goal of making the world more resilient. We hope that this deal will encourage other organizations with smaller energy consumptions to join together and switch to renewable energy.”

–Dr. Lasse Wallquist, Senior Sustainability Risk Manager at Swiss Re

How we helped

3Degrees led the procurement process, resulting in individual PPAs for each company, while providing stakeholder education and support to each company individually, according to their differing needs.   

The first stage of the process consisted of quick market price discovery and analysis to gather the facts necessary to engage, educate and align company stakeholders. This early market analysis was critical to ensure all companies had a green light for the procurement, as well as gained approval on contract length, acceptable pricing, general terms and conditions, and offtake amounts. Each buyer made a go/no-go decision regarding  participation in the second stage.

After all four companies gave the thumbs up, 3Degrees solicited proposals from project developers, validated project development assumptions and completed rigorous risk and financial analyses. For the shortlisted projects, a deep-dive qualitative due diligence was conducted to provide the four companies with a holistic picture of each project’s viability, the reputation of the developers, as well as background on the developers’ engagement with the local community to date.

“Our collaboration with 3Degrees, Apple, Etsy and Swiss Re resulted in a superior outcome than we could have achieved on our own, and gives us confidence that we will achieve our 2020 global renewable energy goal.”

–Dr. Nicola Peill-Moelter, senior director of environmental sustainability at Akamai

For the top ranked projects, 3Degrees evaluated numerous project pricing options to determine the best possible financial offers, then navigated the intricate process of allocating the offtake available from several projects still under consideration among the four buyers – balancing differing project characteristics and financial specifics across the buyers’ needs and aspirations. Next, a custom calculator was developed to compare prices across multiple project combinations, considering a variety of hypothetical wholesale energy market price scenarios which would affect the purchase’s overall economics. Ultimately, the buyers selected an Illinois wind project and a Virginia solar project, agreed upon the final offtake allocation and entered into the contract negotiation phase.

3Degrees supported the buyers throughout the contracting process – acting as a unified voice for the group during negotiations, advising on contract terms and making recommendations based on each client’s unique needs and priorities. In spite of varying risk tolerances and needs for specific terms, the PJM Gang negotiated from a single set of commercial terms which were ultimately translated into side-by-side PPAs for each buyer and project.

Results

1 PJM is a regional transmission organization (RTO) that coordinates the movement of wholesale electricity in all or parts of 13 states and the District of Columbia.

 

More on Renewable Energy Procurement services from 3Degrees.

MOM’s Organic Market: Leading the Way in Grocer Sustainability

MOMs-case-study

Mom's Organic MarketMOM’s Organic Market has a long history of environmental stewardship. In 1987, founder Scott Nash recognized the demand for organic food and its vast benefits for our environment and fighting climate change. He decided to start a company to deliver on that need in a way that demonstrates responsible and sustainable business practices. Today, MOM’s has stores in four states and Washington, D.C. and has created a culture centered on its purpose to protect and restore the environment.

Consistent with this culture, MOM’s has matched its total electricity with renewable energy since 2005. The company also practices strict energy and packaging efficiency at all locations, installed on-site solar in three locations, and has a 1.5-megawatt off-site solar farm in Kingsville, MD, which supports approximately 25% of its total power needs. But MOM’s was eager to make an even greater impact and enlisted the support of 3Degrees to further evolve its renewable energy strategy and help build plans to address the company’s long term climate goals.

Challenges

MOM’s Organic Market has a lean sustainability team with ambitious environmental goals. In addition to the on-site solar that had already been installed on several of the company’s facilities, MOM’s had matched the remainder of its Scope 2 emissions with high-quality, certified renewable energy credits. However, in order to gain access to a more competitive REC market and open up additional funds to reinvest in broader high impact sustainability initiatives, MOM’s turned to 3Degrees to help support its renewable energy sourcing.

Demonstrating an even deeper commitment to environmental sustainability, MOM’s launched its “CARbon OFFset” campaign to address the emissions generated by the retailer’s customers traveling to and from its stores. Armed with the store-level zip code data collected annually, MOM’s turned to 3Degrees to help process this data, determine CO2 equivalencies, and invest in high-quality carbon offset projects to cover the total output of their customers’ tailpipe emissions.

The 3Degrees team helped MOM’s craft a plan that would address both the company’s renewable energy and carbon reduction goals, while meeting its business and financial criteria.

How we helped

Renewable Energy

3Degrees developed a portfolio of Green-e certified wind facilities across the United States that would allow MOM’s to support renewable energy generation by purchasing enough zero-emitting wind RECs to cover the remainder of emissions from its electricity use.

Carbon Offset Projects

In order to offset its customers’ carbon footprint, MOM’s had to first measure the emissions created from their shopping trips. Every year, the company collects zip code information in store and calculates the average distance customers traveled, then multiplies that by the annual customer count across its 19 stores. 3Degrees uses this information to calculate the equivalent carbon emissions associated with this travel, then identifies high-quality, third-party verified carbon reduction projects to offset these emissions.

Today MOM’s Organic Market invests in a variety of different carbon reduction project types across the United States including landfill methane capture, anaerobic digester (manure methane capture), and emissions capture from U.S. coal mines. These projects all prevent potent greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere and reduce MOM’s overall carbon footprint from its business operations.

Results

Since becoming a 3Degrees customer in 2015, MOM’s Organic Market has:

  • Purchased more than 47,600 wind RECs to match its direct electricity emissions
  • Prevented more than 225M pounds of CO2 from being released into the environment

MOM’s Organic Market continues to investigate new technologies and avenues to further reduce its impact on the environment. Its environmental commitment and associated sustainability initiatives have also translated into strong customer satisfaction ratings and customer loyalty.

Mom's case study impact

 

“Being an environmentally-focused company not only helps the world be a better place, it also helps our business’s bottom line by increasing employee morale and customer loyalty. With expanding options for solar and renewable energy, we hope other businesses follow suit.”

–Scott Nash, MOM’s Organic Market, CEO/Founder

Reducing Scope 2 GHG Emissions at Home and Abroad

WhitePaper_international-latest

Businesses across the globe are increasing their efforts to reduce their carbon footprints. For many, it’s clear how to do this in their home country, but less so when they try to reduce emissions associated with their overseas operations. 

3Degrees recently released a white paper that explains some of the most common international options, where each option is available, and how to ensure that investments follow the WRI Greenhouse Gas Protocols.

The white paper covers topics such as:

  • Methods for calculating Scope 2 emissions
  • Reducing global emissions
  • Quality criteria for Scope 2 emissions reductions

Want to learn more? Check out our white paper.

 

(International Renewables) Giriraj bundled wind

Giriraj Bundled Wind Project

The Bundled Wind Power Project is located in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, India and was built to generate power using wind energy and to sell the renewable power generated to the state grid. The wind power generated from the project displaces the electricity generated from coal, diesel, furnace oil, and gas combustion at thermal power stations feeding into the Indian Electricity Grid. The project has a capacity of 112.5 MW and consists of 64 turbines. The revenue from the sale of carbon offsets was necessary to build, operate, and maintain the project.

The Bundled Wind Power Project provides 170,481 MWh of clean, renewable energy annually, which is enough to power 37,093 homes for an average family of four.  The project created local employment opportunities during the construction and operation phases. This renewable energy development has led to infrastructure development in the region, such as expanding roads and access to improved power generation for local businesses.

3Degrees + carbon offsets

View other project profiles or contact us.

Saint Louis University Achieves Renewable Energy Milestone

SLU is Missouri’s first institution of higher education to commit to match all electricity used in student residence halls with renewable energy through the Ameren Missouri Pure Power® Program.

Founded in 1818, Saint Louis University (SLU) is one of the oldest and most prestigious Catholic universities in the nation. 2018 marks its bicentennial and to continue the 200-year commitment to serve a higher purpose while always seeking the greater good, a student-led sustainability initiative was started four years ago to lead the effort to reach this milestone.

To match electricity used in residence halls, SLU purchased Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) from Midwest wind farms through the Ameren Missouri Pure Power Program. By purchasing these RECs, SLU is able to prove that renewable energy was generated and added to the grid, and in turn, bolsters the renewable energy industry as a whole.

The initiative was headed by Douglas Fritz, now a senior who founded the student group, Green Billikens, and who also co-chairs the Sustainability Committee for the Student Government Association. “We made it happen during our bicentennial year, creating a campaign around sustainability that focuses on making our campus greener for the next 100 years,” Fritz said. “Pure Power is one of the many ways Ameren Missouri is providing affordable choices for customers who support and want to grow renewable energy in the Midwest,” said Tom Thompson, supervisor of energy services at Ameren Missouri.

3Degrees Business Development Manager, Debra Pottinger, worked closely with SLU to bring this project to fruition. Pottinger notes “During the first year, SLU will create the demand for 8,004 megawatt hours of electricity to be generated by Midwest Wind Farms and added to the Midwest power pool.”

By The Numbers

Greenhouse Gas Equivalents:

+ 1,427 vehicles off the road for a year or
+ 173,173 trees planted or
+ 239,496 incandescent bulbs switched to LED

Photo Credit: photo provided by Saint Louis University – Sustainability initiative leaders include (L to R) Laura Beilsmith, Green Billikens president, Douglas Fritz, Green Billikens founder & co-chair of the SGA Sustainability Committee, Laju Sudhakar, president of the Residence Hall Association and Antonio Hornstein, chair of the Green Billikens Renewable Energy Working Group.