Google relies on renewable EDPs to support an environmental justice agenda focused on solar energy
Google and EDPR NA Distributed Generation LLC (EDPR NA DG), the distributed generation business unit of EDP Renewables North America (EDPR NA), have signed a framework agreement to support more than 80 distributed solar projects with a combined capacity of 500 MW AC.
The companies say the deal aligns with an environmental justice program that benefits more than 25,000 families in low- and moderate-income communities and will initially focus on projects in the PJM Interconnection service area, which stretches from New Jersey to Ohio. The first projects will be built in Ohio, where Google maintains a data center campus in New Albany and a Google Cloud region in Columbus.
The initiative, called the Clean Energy Financial Benefit Sharing Program, is funded in part by Google’s purchase of a renewable energy credit (REC) called ImpactREC. ImpactREC, like other traditional RECs, is created in and eligible for applicable compliance markets. However, striking it involves additional contracts that prove direct community investment and direct LMI benefit. The ImpactREC program provides synthetically similar economic benefits of community solar energy in jurisdictions that do not currently have subsidies.
The EDPR NA DG team, led by Christopher Rittenhouse and Adam Woda, collaborated with Google over the past two years to design and develop the ImpactREC product and the supporting framework agreement.
“We heard in interviews with local community leaders and environmental justice advocates that the disproportionate impact of a high energy burden remains the primary obstacle to a just energy transition. In collaboration with EDPR NA DG, we aim to reduce the energy burden in the communities in which we operate, while moving towards a 24/7 carbon-free energy goal,” says Sana Ouji, Google’s VP of Energy.
In addition to the ImpactREC deal, the program includes the creation of a $12 million community impact fund. The fund focuses on projects that reduce energy poverty in the communities where the projects are built. Google and EDPR NA DG are committed to local social and economic justice as part of the transition to a sustainable future.
“The partnership with Google paves the way for a new, enterprise-led market segment focused on breaking down barriers to rapid, decentralized and equitable decarbonization of the typical energy system,” adds Richard Dovere, lead investor. Official of EDPR NA DG. “A key feature of this partnership is its ‘open book’ approach. In the coming weeks, we will release plans to the market with the goal of making ImpactREC the defining incentive methodology to enable local renewable development linked to environmental justice.”