More customers buying into dollars and sense of green power
Not long ago, “corporate citizenship” would have been simply defined as a company’s philanthropic activities. Today, however, this is just the starting point.
These days, Canada’s leading companies and organizations look at a broad spectrum of sustainable activities as the building blocks of corporate social responsibility. These include financial performance, community involvement, and environmental performance. By integrating these activities into their day-to-day operations, they are, in turn, finding new and exciting strategies to fulfil their responsibilities to society and to disparate groups of stakeholders.
One of these new strategies is to purchase Green Power as a portion of their total annual purchase of electricity.
Green Power is electricity generated from renewable sources that have low impact on the environment. Examples of Green Power include biomass, wind, solar, and ‘run-of-river’ hydro (hydro-electric generating stations that use small dams with little or no environmental impact).
Because Green Power is more environmentally friendly than electricity made from conventional energy sources, purchasing Green Power makes a powerful statement about where the buyer stands on environmental issues. A purchase of Green Power signals support for the development of new Green Power sources. It’s a choice that environmentally conscious commercial, industrial, and institutional users of electricity might want to consider. Any residential user of electricity can purchase Green Power through Oakville Hydro.
In Ontario, Ontario Power Generation (OPG) is one of the largest producers and suppliers of Green Power. For many years, OPG has taken great pride in being a sustainable-development company. To this end, its investment in–and sale of–Green Power is an important part of its strategy to achieve this goal.
The list of Green Power customers today is small but steadily growing. Some of Canada’s leading financial institutions, including RBC Financial Group, CIBC (Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce), and National Bank Financial, are customers. At 333 years old, Hudson’s Bay Company, Canada’s oldest corporation and largest department store chain, recently made a significant commitment to Green Power. Toronto and Region Conservation and Dillon Consulting are the latest companies to join OPG’s “green club”.
A number of Ontario-based manufacturing companies have also come on board. These include FAG Bearings Limited, a major supplier of bearings to the North American automotive and aerospace sectors.
Typically, a customer will purchase from 2% to 20% of their overall energy requirement as green power at a premium over the cost of regular electricity. The premium is necessary to make new projects viable, since Green Power is generated from new technologies and facilities with smaller economies of scale than electricity made from conventional sources. In the case of OPG, Green Power sales help to support the case for new projects such as Huron Wind, a partnership with a consortium of energy companies that is the first commercial wind farm in Ontario. A viable Green Power market also serves to promote the current Green Power project pipeline.
All of our Green Power customers are diverse in terms of their products, customers, operations and ownership structures, but they share two important beliefs: a strong commitment to corporate social responsibility and to the environment. These early adaptors are signalling to employees, customers, investors, and other stakeholders that they are leaders in taking action on the environmental file. As demand for Green Power grows throughout Ontario, electricity generators will invest more in Green Power facilities and more in R&D for renewable technologies. Everyone benefits.
For environmentally conscious companies and individuals today, the market for Green Power is up and running. There is no better time to go green.
John Sawler is product marketing manager, Green Power, at Ontario Power Generation in Toronto.