Embedded in the heart of our mission statement is our drive to nurture our children, each other, and our planet. At the beginning of 2021, we made an important step towards this commitment - we have invested in renewable energy! All of our products are now made with renewable energy through the use of renewable energy certificates (RECs). For transparency and accountability, we are also third-party certified by Green-e and the Center for Resource Solutions.
What is a renewable energy credit (REC)?
A REC is a market-based instrument that represents the energy generated by a renewable energy source, and is produced when a renewable source generates one megawatt-hour and delivers it to the grid. (EPA) The sale of RECs signal demand to the renewable energy market, and enables the purchaser to claim the use of renewable electricity. RECs cannot be sold more than once, are uniquely identifiable, and the exchange of RECs is tracked and recorded.
Going Beyond Conventional RECs
While we considered conventional RECs, we knew we could further our impact, and instead partnered with Native Energy, joining their New Renewables Portfolio. This portfolio has the goal to build over 200,000 MWh of new, community-scale renewable energy by 2025, and we are proud to be part of this opportunity to bring new projects online.
This portfolio is unique in that all projects invested in must be new, incremental sources of renewable energy, or demonstrate additionality. Preference is given for projects that are owned/operated by small, local co-ops, provide vocational training and clean job creation, and promote co-benefits such as pollinator habitat development.
This investment represents a sustainability solution available to us today, and we are consistently evaluating further opportunities to grow our impact.
Spotlight on the Forest City Solar Project
The Forest City Solar Project, owned by Butter Solar, LLC, is the first project to be developed for NativeEnergy’s New Renewables Portfolio. This project is a 3.0 MW solar photovoltaic project connected to the City of Forest City electric grid. Located in the city of Forest City, Iowa, it consists of a ground-mounted contiguous array of ~11,908 individual photovoltaic panels. Project operating life is expected to be over 25 years.
The energy from the project will generate about 10% of the utility’s annual electricity consumption, and will displace prior contracted wholesale energy typically derived from a contract that delivers primarily coal-fired generation. Forest City expects to achieve significant savings compared to its current wholesale electricity supply agreement as a result of purchasing the output from the project, and these savings will be directly passed through to its ratepayers. The combination of the utility’s purchase of electricity and Native Energy’s purchase of RECs has enabled this project to move forward.
Vegetation beneath the solar arrays are “pollinator-friendly,” low-growing, primarily native meadows. About a third of food crops are pollinated by bees or other pollinators, and with the corn/soy monocultures that occupy most of the landscape in the heartland, these species are experiencing rapid declines. The Project is working with Rob Davis at Fresh Energy to design pollinator habitat seed mixes that are science-based and conform to scorecards developed by researchers at the University of Wisconsin. The project is also working with local beekeepers who would keep hives adjacent to the solar arrays to benefit from the habitat.