RMI's plan to help Fortune 500 companies up their renewables game

Last week, RMI's program to significantly scale the commitment by Fortune 500 companies to source renewable energy was chosen as one of six winners at the Bloomberg New Energy Finance Summit's Finance for Resilience ("FiRe") event. FiRe is designed to identify the best proposals to spur increased investment in renewables and scale them as quickly as possible.

RMI's plan is to create a Business Renewables Resource Center that will help to double clean energy cash flows by 2019 by increasing clean energy procurement by large commercial and industrial companies. While the center initially will focus on the U.S. market, the capability effectively will travel within these large corporations to other countries.

Most of the largest global companies have publicly set ambitious greenhouse gas reduction goals, many of which require significant renewable energy solutions. Yet, as of the middle of last year, only 25 large companies together had put in place about 1,000 solar photovoltaic installations in the U.S. And although some companies such as Walmart and Google have gotten into the game at serious scale, investment by most large companies remains small compared to their energy profiles.

Commercial and industrial companies, collectively a major player for scaling renewables — especially wind and solar — are sitting on the sidelines. We see these non-energy, non-finance large companies, which together represent about half of all commercial and industrial energy demand, as ripe for transformation.

What does it take to help large corporations get renewable sourcing deals done? Completing procurement and investment renewable energy deals requires a sophisticated and very persistent transaction team. Struggling to green light renewable energy deals, most find themselves unfamiliar with current practices and daunted by a rapidly changing marketplace. Large-scale investment in renewable energy projects requires that key decision makers in the procurement, finance, legal and accounting departments all have access to information that is pertinent to real-world deal making. Today, that information is expensive, hard to find and often not readily available to companies unless they have a specific energy focus.

RMI aims to change that paradigm with a renewables resource center that offers:

• Direct access to expert corporate transaction teams (procurement, legal, finance, accounting)

• Educational materials and case studies that are broadly available to help senior decision makers approve deals

• Resources for expanding geographically bounded opportunities

• Demand aggregation and auction platforms

It will disseminate pertinent information, often as a direct conduit, to top-tier experts and corporate transactional staff in an affordable, broad and meaningful way. The center will provide education for transaction staff, offer bootcamps for senior executives and publish case studies that detail how peer companies successfully have overcome the challenges.

Watch a video of RMI's CEO Jules Kortenhorst discussing the center below.

This story first appeared at Rocky Mountain Institute's RMI Outlet blog. Photo of a wind turbine at a Walmart in Balzac, Canada via Walmart.