Companies That Buy Green Power

Find out about the top green power purchasers in the U.S., most of which are household names.

| Sept. 10, 2008

Solar Panels

Over 1,000 organizations around the United States are buying utility-scale energy from renewable resources such as wind, solar and biomass. The combined  green power purchased by these companies is about 16 billion kilowatt hours a year.


These days, it seems like more and more companies tout “green” images. For some it’s legit; for others, it’s a little more than slick marketing. But among those that are increasing their efforts to be green, a growing number of businesses and institutions are spending serious money on renewable energy; so much so that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency compiles a quarterly list of the top green power investors through their Green Power Partnership program. Making this list doesn’t mean these are companies perfect, but it's inspiring that they're voluntarily spending millions of dollars on clean energy, which is tremendously beneficial to advancing that technology. Here’s a brief look at the EPA’s program and the top five from their July 2008 report.

The Program

The Green Power Partnership, a program initiated by the EPA, recognizes institutions that purchase green power or Renewable Energy Credits as a means of minimizing or offsetting their carbon footprints.

More than 1,000 organizations across the United States, from universities to Fortune 500 companies to local mom-and-pop shops, have joined the program since it began in July 2001. Combined, the group now purchases nearly 16 billion kilowatt hours of green power a year, from solar, wind, geothermal, biomass and biogas sources.

To become a Green Power Partner, an organization must purchase a certain percentage of its total electricity from Green Power resources. Depending on the company’s size, that percentage could be anywhere from 2 percent to 10 percent, though many go above and beyond the minimum criteria.

Green Power

The EPA accepts green power purchases for the partnership in three forms: Renewable Energy Credits (RECs), utility services and on-site generators. The latter two involve powering facilities directly via renewable energy. RECs, on the other hand, are a bit more complicated.

One REC is equivalent to 1 megawatt hour of green power. When an organization purchases an REC, 1 megawatt hour of energy is added to a utility’s grid system from a renewable resource.  RECs are, therefore, a way for organizations to compensate for or offset energy that comes from more conventional resources, such as coal.

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