With each passing day, more and more of America's largest companies are committing to powering their businesses with 100% renewable energy within the next few years. Thanks to the rapid decline in costs for contracted wind and solar power, renewable energy has become increasingly competitive.
Quick action has also become necessary, as some companies face a short timeline to satisfy investors who are increasingly demanding action. A new catalyst for growth has been a new organization around the cause. RE100, a corporate leadership initiative that aims to bring together businesses committed to 100% renewable electricity, has reached 200 members.
There are a few ways companies can achieve this ambitious goal, and three companies, NextEra Energy (NYSE:NEE), Iron Mountain (NYSE:IRM), and Exelon (NASDAQ:EXC), are great examples of how those companies can capitalize on these decisions. Here's a look at how all three are driving better business outcomes from renewable energy.
NextEra Energy: The first mover on contracts
Corporate contracts may seem like a small component of NextEra Energy's massive renewables development pipeline, but its experience with corporates could give the company even more competitive advantage as more prospective contract counterparties look to quickly meet green goals.
NextEra signed its first deal to supply Google with power in 2010, agreeing to provide 114 megawatts from its Story II wind energy center in Iowa. Since that time it has signed deals to provide 100% renewable power to multiple corporate clients as part of its much larger renewable power generation pipeline.
In its most recent investor presentation slides, the company cites commercial and industrial, or C&I, demand as one of several factors driving what it projects will be more than 80 gigawatts of US renewables demand through 2022. The company states that its NextEra Energy Resources unit's 11.7-gigawatt renewables backlog of projects is the largest in its history, and presentation materials also list more than 1.6 gigawatts in renewables projects through 2022 as "contracted, not yet announced."
Iron Mountain: Using green power as a selling point
Data center operator Iron Mountain holds a unique place in the landscape because it has been contracting with renewable project developers to power its own businesses but is also using green energy as a draw to line up new data center tenants.
The company used its clean energy success to create a new product, and in June signed its first customers for its Green Power Pass, a program that will ensure power consumed at its data centers is 100% renewable.
In a September 12 investor presentation, Iron Mountain highlighted the Green Power Pass as a factor that enables the company to provide a "differentiated data center offering" that supports its own growth and provides a solution for its customers' digital transformation challenges.
Exelon: The more modern utility
Exelon, despite a long history of producing coal-fired and nuclear power, has been working to establish itself as a clean energy player. In mid-September its Constellation unit emerged with a new corporate renewable supply program, Constellation Offsite Renewables, or CORe.
The company signed on a university, a spice manufacturer, and a retailer to buy a combined 175 megawatts from the program, which Exelon describes as increasing access to renewable energy for commercial customers by removing the "significant hurdles" that accompany traditional offsite power purchase agreements. The new contract with three buyers extends for 15 years.
The company has many traditional utility units, including Baltimore Gas and Electric, PECO, PEPCO, Delmarva Power and Light, and Atlantic City Electric, and C&I contracts already make up a significant piece of the company's revenue mix. The new program enables the company to hang on to existing customers who want to go green and attract new buyers.
Hold these stocks as corporate demand keeps growing
NextEra Energy, Iron Mountain, and Exelon have well-established programs to meet the demands of corporations with near-term and long-term renewable energy goals. Combine this with track records of generating solid returns and rewarding investors with high-yielding dividends, and all three companies are solid options for investors waiting for corporate contract volume to translate into improved revenue and earnings.