The Growing Interest in Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) for Schools
Whether it’s on your radar currently or not, renewable energy is a rising trend that will continue to grow, not only this year, but in the decades to come. In the Annual Energy Outlook 2021, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) projected that the share of renewables in the U.S. electricity generation mix will increase from 21% in 2020 to 42% in 2050. Additionally, they’ve predicted that by 2030, renewables will collectively surpass natural gas as the primary source of generation in the U.S. While large scale projects like installing solar PV are viable for many schools, a more immediate solution for reducing your carbon footprint and taking a more active role in the use of renewables is to procure green power by way of RECs (renewable energy certificates).
What are RECs?
RECs are one of the most easily accessible options for businesses and schools, effectively setting organizations up to procure up to 100% green power through a simplified transaction. RECs allow you to procure electricity in essentially the same way you always have, but through a retail energy supplier. So how does it work?
A REC is produced when a renewable energy source generates one megawatt-hour (MWh) of electricity and delivers it to the grid. RECs are certificates that then transfer that renewable energy to the purchaser (you). In other words, paired with electricity from the grid renewable energy is being generated on your behalf. In turn, your organization can tout that they are procuring x-amount of green power, as much as 100% depending on your specific goals and needs.
What it Means for Schools
RECs can comprise a mix of green power sources - green meaning that electricity generated from natural resources that replenish themselves overtime, wind and solar being the most widely known. As the trend and demand for green power and renewables continues to build, and as legislation continues to push organizations towards increased implementation of sustainability and efficiency measures, schools are finding themselves in search of financially and functionally viable solutions. For example, the LA School District found themselves looking for more green power options, so in May of 2020, they turned to APPI Energy. With California mandating that 20% of electricity be generated by renewables, they were eager to enter a supply contract that would help meet their goals. APPI Energy Senior Vice President Mike Payne offered them a carbon free product and with further discussion of renewables and sustainability products. “The Los Angeles Unified School District is a large organization that prides itself on being progressive and inspiring its students,” said Payne. “What better way to inspire your students than utilizing renewable energy technology and being a pillar for the future? I’m glad I could help them secure an energy contract that would allow them to do this and also meet their electricity and natural gas needs as well.”
Benefits to Organizations
RECs can provide numerous benefits to organizations, from reducing greenhouse gas emissions, to meeting renewable energy goals, to strengthening stakeholder relationships and differentiating your organization’s brand and messaging. Additionally, RECs allow your organization to source from a wider selection of suppliers, as well as a greater variety of renewable sources, such as wind, solar and biomass for example. Many schools use their increased procurement of green power to tout themselves to faculty, students and parents, and the larger community as institutions that are making strides to be more sustainable and “green.” Of course, the more immediate benefit is the ease of implementation. With no structural changes needed at your facility, it’s as simple as locking into an electricity supply contract the way you always have, only with the benefit of procuring green power through the purchased RECs.
World Resources Institute, Corporate Guide to Green Power
Energy Information Administration (EIA)
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)