Why renewable energy offers long-term stability
Despite their steep drops this year, oil and gas prices historically have been subject to wild fluctuations and spikes that worry even the calmest of planners.
Set aside the environmental boon of avoided carbon and pollutants. Bracket the reputational benefits garnered by reaching impressive corporate sustainability goals. What you have left are compelling financial reasons to voluntarily source clean energy for a company’s power portfolio.
That was the consensus reached on a recent GreenBiz webcast, “The Opportunities and Challenges of Buying Renewable Energy,” sponsored by Altenex, an energy management network that advises commercial and institutional customers.
One would hope that this would be the case given the incentives of federal tax credits and state feed-in tariffs (where a state buys renewable energy, often making up the price difference between the renewable and the conventional grid, with the hopes that prices will drop with more widespread use).
“Renewable energy can reduce your energy costs — full-stop,” said Blaine Collison, managing director of Altenex. He was joined last week by energy expert Peter Kelly-Detwiler of NorthBridge Energy Partners, Sarah Zemanick from Cornell University and Rob Threlkeld of General Motors.
Cost-benefit analyses of whether a company should switch to renewable energy are beginning to tip in favor of renewables — on cost alone. In many regions of the United States, the costs for installing solar or contracting for wind options have reached parity with grid-based options from a utility.
This is all the more impressive, considering that the fossil fuel industry snags $550 billion in governmental subsidies annually.
Even though oil and gas prices have plummeted this year, historically prices of fossil fuel-based electricity have been wildly volatile (PDF) with price spikes hitting at unanticipated times.