Corporate Leadership: Solar in the Southeast (part 5)

The final installment in this blog series highlights corporate leadership in renewable procurement. Five companies are doing nine projects in three Southeastern states totaling more than 1,000 MW (1 GW) of solar.

Bryan Jacob | May 17, 2019 | Energy Policy, Solar

I want to conclude the blog series on our Solar in the Southeast annual report with acknowledgement of the commercial & industrial sector that is driving a lot of the solar development in the Southeast.

As we express in the report, 2018 was a banner year for corporate leadership on solar…and the Southeast was no exception. Five companies are doing nine projects in three states totaling more than 1,000 MW (1 GW) of solar.

Facebook drove major solar commitments in Georgia (203 MW), Alabama (227 MW) and Tennessee (150 MW). Google announced projects for Tennessee and Alabama (150 MW each) and also joined with Target, Walmart, and Johnson & Johnson, to contract with Georgia Power for 177 MW of solar.

The Business Renewables Center tracks the status of corporate deals like these across the U.S.A. and maintains data on their BRC Deal Tracker.

But this is not just a U.S.A. phenomenon. Globally, corporate purchases of renewable energy more than doubled last year to over 13 GW. My colleague, Amy Vaden, explained that “businesses are realizing that not only can sustainability measures be profitable in a direct sense by saving corporate customers money on energy bills, there is also a growing trend of companies recognizing the secondary benefits of sustainability.”

Is there a downside?

A potential risk of corporations insisting on large quantities of solar is that utilities may be inclined to only offer it to those corporations. In a recent Public Service Commission hearing, we asserted that if the low-cost, clean energy is exclusively offered to the commercial & industrial customers, that implies that the remaining customers are left to pay the freight on the higher-cost, dirtier energy.

This is a fundamental inequity SACE will seek to address and ensure access to solar for all customer classes. Meanwhile, we applaud those large corporate customers who understand the environmental and economic benefits of clean energy and are maneuvering to incorporate it into their operations.


Catch up on the entire “Solar in the Southeast” 2018 report series.
Read Part 1 of the the blog series, giving an overview of the report.
Read Part 2 of the blog series, highlighting SunRisers across the region.
Read Part 3 of the blog series, mapping out current and future utility leaders across the region.
Read Part 4 of the blog series depicting SunBlockers in the Southeast.
Watch the “Solar in the Southeast” webinar recorded on 4/16.

Bryan Jacob
Bryan joined the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy in June 2017. As Solar Program Director, Bryan leads activities to promote solar power across the Southeast. These activities range from conducting…
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