Many businesses today emphasize the use of green and sustainable energy, but energy goals can be difficult to reach in the real world. There is now a different way for companies to easily access renewable energy resources: by utilizing “green tariffs.” Green tariffs are “large-scale renewable energy purchasing programs” which enable businesses, as well as consumers, to buy renewable energy for a fixed price. This new development makes sustainable energy resources more accessible for commercial and personal use.
Three companies in Michigan “united” under a green tariff program to achieve a common goal of using more renewable energy. Consumers Energy, a Michigan-based energy provider, set specific renewable energy resource goals for the future and currently “provides 10 percent of customers’ energy use from renewable sources.”
However, the company’s management announced that, by 2040, more than 40 percent of its energy will be derived from sustainable sources. The utility company’s goals now include, “reducing carbon emissions by 80 percent and no longer using coal to generate electricity by 2040.” Consumers Energy orchestrated a green tariff, which was approved by the Michigan Public Service Commission in 2017, to connect large businesses in Michigan with renewable energy sources to meet their electricity needs.
In March 2018, Consumers Energy welcomed carmaker General Motors (GM) and data center design firm Switch into its green tariff program. Both of these businesses have made renewable energy goals and Consumers Energy stated that it was including organizations that “are leading the way for companies that want to operate efficiently in a competitive environment, yet also make and meet commitments to our planets.”
General Motors’ current sustainability campaign reached their 2020 renewable energy goal 4 years early, in 2016. They have begun the next stage in their commitment, “to meet all of [their] global facilities’ electricity needs through renewable energy by 2050.” Mary Barra, General Motors Chairman and CEO explained the motivation behind her push for sustainable energy:
“At GM, we understand that the vehicles we make and the way we make them impact our environment and communities. We take this responsibility to heart. Today, we use less energy and water, generate less waste and emit less carbon to manufacture a vehicle than ever before … These are wins for our business, customers and investors, and wins for the environment and communities that surround us.”
Switch places a strong emphasis on clean energy. The goal of its renewable energy initiative is to ensure, “the sustainable growth of the Internet” through centers designed to “run on 100% renewable energy.” The company guarantees that their “clients are automatically 100% green” as a direct result of Switch’s sustainability commitment.
Through green tariff programs, like the ones that Consumers Energy, General Motors, and Switch are using, businesses are able to produce goods and provide services in a way that matches their energy use goals in a cost-efficient way that doesn’t increase end-use costs for consumers.