Adam Zuckerman [00:00:58] Hello everybody. I'm Adam Zuckerman, today's host of the Energy Impact Podcast. We are here with a wonderful guest, Miranda Ballentine from the Clean Energy Buyers Association, also known as CEBA. As we all know, limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees requires almost a 50% CO2 reduction by 2030, and that means that we need to reach net zero around 2050. Now, CEBA is focused on making that happen and today we are honored to have Miranda with us. Miranda, it's a pleasure.
Miranda Ballentine [00:01:28] Thanks for having me, Adam. Really great to be here.
Adam Zuckerman [00:01:31] Thank you so much. Now, for people that aren't familiar with CEBA, can you give a little bit of the background of the organization and where they are? And then we're going to hop into your background as well.
Miranda Ballentine [00:01:40] Yeah, absolutely. So, the Clean Energy Buyers Alliance actually has two organizations. Like you said, we have the Clean Energy Buyers Association, but we also have the Clean Energy Buyers Institute, which is a charitable nonprofit that's a partner to our trade association. The Clean Energy Buyers Association is a community of primarily large energy customers. So companies that use energy, but also their partners. So energy providers, energy developers, service providers, kind of anyone who is party to a clean energy deal that's in the voluntary markets. We also have NGOs and lots of other partners that are part of the community.
Adam Zuckerman [00:02:23] So my understanding is that there's over 330 energy customers and partners, is that correct?
Miranda Ballentine [00:02:28] 360 now, Adam. Yeah, so the community has grown very rapidly. It really started with 12 companies sitting in a room at the World Wildlife Fund offices back in 2013. About 12 big companies, names that you would recognize, Walmart and Google and Johnson & Johnson and General Motors and Coca-Cola, the Kellogg Food Company. So about 12 companies back in 2014 who had commitments to using their energy consumption to decarbonize the power system. And back in 2013, this group of 12 companies said, "You know, it would be really great if we had a home for large energy customers to work together to break the barriers that we're facing to using our demand side procurement power to decarbonize the grid." And so fast forward to today, and that's the Clean Energy Buyers Association.
Adam Zuckerman [00:03:28] 12 organizations to 360, you're probably going to be over a thousand within a matter of years, I imagine. What was that original catalyst for the 12 to come together? Was that a nonprofit? Was that a single individual or entity, or was it just a spontaneous "let's all just show up at this office and have some coffee?"
Miranda Ballentine [00:03:47] I guess maybe a little bit of all of the above. So back in 2014, there were only a small number of companies that had actually successfully procured renewable energy. In fact, I think at that original meeting, only three companies had done power purchase agreements: Walmart, Google and General Motors. Those companies in the room, I think were the only ones that had actually successfully done a power purchase agreement, a PPA. And we were all partnering with the big NGO, environmental NGO communities. So we had partnerships with the World Wildlife Fund, the World Resources Institute, the Rocky Mountain Institute, Business for Social Responsibility. So those four NGOs said, "You know what, there are lots of forums for energy suppliers and clean energy developers to get together to talk about how to accelerate this transition, but there's not really a home for the energy customer community.".
Miranda Ballentine [00:04:48] So there was, of course, the Solar Energy Industry Association and the American Wind Energy Association and a number of other associations that were developed by the supply side for the supply side. But there wasn't a home that was created by the customer side, the demand side for the demand side. And so that's what WWF really said, "Hey, let's have an initial meeting and see whether these companies are having enough success on their own or whether there are some barriers that they could tackle together as a community better than on their own." So that was really the genesis.
Adam Zuckerman [00:05:26] Fantastic. And as the organization has grown, people in their individual careers have grown too. You always haven't been at CEBA. Let's hop back a little bit and then we'll jump forward again. Tell us a little bit about your history. So how did you have your interest in clean energy sparked? What's the background of your time all the way back from David Gardiner and Associates to today?
Miranda Ballentine [00:05:47] I'm going to go even further back than David Gardiner and Associates. But I'm excited that we're also going to be jumping forward because the listeners to to this podcast today are going to hear some really exciting news about the 2022 voluntary clean energy market. We're sort of unveiling our state of the market from 2022 today on this podcast, so I'm excited to jump forward again. But looking back, actually, my undergraduate degree is in the neurosciences, if you can believe that. So, I spent my undergraduate years at Colorado State University running rats through mazes and dissecting human brains and looking at hippocampal memory. So how I got to clean energy is sort of a long, windy story, but it really actually all started when I worked for a small nonprofit here in Washington, D.C. called the Solar Electric Light Fund, whose mission was to solve what we now call energy poverty. That wasn't even a phrase back then, but SELF's mission was to use remote off-grid microgrids, solar powered microgrids for economic development, health development, educational development, in remote parts of the world. And I really kind of caught the clean energy bug at that organization, went back to business school, really focused on energy and environment in business school, and then came out and did some work with a wonderful consulting firm here in D.C. called David Gardiner and Associates and had an opportunity to work across a number of different industries. If there are any younger folks, early career folks thinking about what do you want to do and you're not sure, I highly recommend consulting because you get a chance to try out a lot of different things. And it really was in my consulting work that I began to recognize the power of the private sector in driving change and accelerating climate change solutions.
Miranda Ballentine [00:07:47] And so when I had an opportunity to join Walmart as the Global Director for Clean Energy Strategy on their sustainability team, it really was an opportunity of a lifetime. So I then had a chance to work across 100 countries around the world and 16 countries where Walmart had operations figuring out how this Fortune #1 company, this behemoth was going to achieve this absolutely audacious goal of being supplied by 100% renewable energy. So that's kind of my own personal story. I had a slight sidebar. I had an opportunity to work in the Obama administration as the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force, where I had a broad portfolio there, but a big piece of my portfolio was that I was the Chief Energy Officer as well. So I went from the largest private energy consumer to the largest public energy consumer. So I come by this energy customer space honestly. I've been doing it for a little bit.
Adam Zuckerman [00:08:49] That's a wonderful dichotomy of the largest corporation in the world, which is the U.S. government, in a strange way, versus one of the largest, if not the largest company in the world, being Walmart. What are the lessons that you learned of how decarbonization is being approached from a private sector versus public sector, and what do you think needs to change there?
Miranda Ballentine [00:09:08] Yeah, it's such an interesting thing. In some ways, there are a lot of similarities. Any large organization has just incredible energy needs. The amount of electricity needed to run the federal government and to run the military... The military is the largest energy consumer in the federal government, and the Air Force is the largest energy consumer in the Department of Defense. You compare that with any large energy customer in the private sector, in the institutional sector, universities, cities, corporations, any large energy customer, there are a lot of similarities. You're serviced by utilities, you are subject to certain laws. Government agency laws and private sector laws are slightly different, but there are a lot of similarities.
Miranda Ballentine [00:10:04] I would say one big difference is in the federal government you have a sort of public mission inherent in being a government, but you also have a lot of restrictions, a lot of legal restrictions because of how fiscal law works. You can only spend money the way that... It's taxpayer dollars. You can only spend it the way that Congress appropriates you to spend it. So you do have some limitations that way that maybe you don't in the private sector. So there are similarities and differences. We could do a whole podcast just on this topic and it would be fun.
Adam Zuckerman [00:10:41] Let's do that another time. Let's switch back to the private sector. You're working with some of the largest organizations in the world, and many of which have made unbelievably impressive and important commitments to securing their clean energy futures as it relates to decarbonization. But in the last five years, there have also been several different changes. As you said, PPAs are becoming more widespread, there's hedging, there's a whole market out there and questions that are answered and still need to be answered. Can you talk a little bit about the services that CEBA offers and what you're seeing in terms of the questions that the leading companies around the world are coming to you for help with?
Miranda Ballentine [00:11:20] Yeah. So as I said, CEBA has about 360 members. About 60% of those are energy customers. So we still are majority energy customers. We have 87 of the Fortune 500 companies in our community. Our community represents $7 trillion in annual revenues, 17 million employees, so it's a substantial community. However, I would say our community is also sort of split between what I would call leaders and learners. So, we do have a growing cohort of companies who have been doing renewable energy deals, clean energy deals, for five years, ten years. In the case of Walmart and SC Johnson and a couple of others, up to 15 years. And they're really now looking for some major barrier busting. They're kind of coming up against, "Okay, we've done this. We've done this and we're facing these barriers.".
Miranda Ballentine [00:12:16] We also have a very substantial community of what I like to call the learners. So we've got leaders and learners. We don't have laggards in our community because we're an opt-in community. So we have leaders and learners. We still do... And it's our fastest growing cohort of members, Adam, is what I call the next generation buyer. They're just getting into the mix. Their CEO maybe just set a science based target goal or their CEO just set a net zero greenhouse gas goal or maybe just set a renewable energy goal or a carbon free energy goal. And often, if you think about it, our community is from every sector, but most of them are not from the energy sector. This is not their expertise. Like you and me, most of these companies just pay a utility bill, and suddenly they're saying, "Oh, wait. This is not only a controllable expense, but I can think about what kind of electricity I want to buy." This is a new concept. So we have kind of two sets of services. One set of services that's really about solving the biggest barriers to deploying clean energy rapidly and another set of services that is really about accelerating the learning curve for the next generation of buyers. So we have boot camps that are taught; the faculty are other are other companies. So more mature companies training the new guys on how this all works.
Adam Zuckerman [00:13:49] Let's focus on that first bucket. What are some of the barriers they're currently running into?
Miranda Ballentine [00:13:54] Yeah, so the biggest barrier without question is lack of access to markets.
Adam Zuckerman [00:14:01] Okay.
Miranda Ballentine [00:14:02] So one of the biggest surprises for companies that are saying, "Okay, now we're going to buy clean energy," one of the biggest surprises is that they can't go out and do an RFP for energy.
Adam Zuckerman [00:14:14] What is that?
Miranda Ballentine [00:14:16] It has to do with regulatory structure. So really what we've discovered is that it's access to wholesale organized markets that is critical. One might think you need access to deregulated retail markets, but actually what we've found is that it's the competition in wholesale markets that matters. And in fact, if you look across all of the deals done since 2014, close to 85 to 90% of them are done in wholesale markets. And that's not because that's where customers have their facilities. It's not because there's 80 to 90% of facilities in wholesale markets. In fact, only about two thirds of energy customer facilities are in wholesale markets. So that is by far the number one barrier. A company needs to be able to choose what kind of power they want to buy.
Adam Zuckerman [00:15:13] All right. So you're saying that you're tracking the data. You referenced us back to 2014. Earlier, you said there's an announcement. I'm going to say just a little bit about it. It's the 2022 deal tracker. What are all of the different variables and metrics that you're tracking? And then let's talk about that deal tracker, too. It's really exciting.
Miranda Ballentine [00:15:32] Yeah. So we have been tracking corporate backed offtake of utility scale wind, solar and storage since 2014.
Adam Zuckerman [00:15:43] How?
Miranda Ballentine [00:15:44] How? Is that what you said?
Adam Zuckerman [00:15:47] Yeah, where is the information from?
Miranda Ballentine [00:15:49] It's a great question. We only track publicly announced data. We only track deals that are a certain far along in the process, they've received certain amounts of permitting and approvals, etc., and we just simply work with our members. So when we see that something's been announced or they come to us and say, "We're going to announce this," we ask all the questions, what's the size, who's your counterparty, where is it at in the process, how confirmed is it, and then it goes into the deal tracker. So there are a number of different organizations that track corporate procurement and do use different metrics. So that's how we do it. So that's what the deal tracker is.
Adam Zuckerman [00:16:37] All right. So, you have the 2022 deal tracker. What are some of the learnings? What are some of the things that you'd like people to know that you found out? Because data is great, but data on its own doesn't mean much without a little bit of analysis. So what's this exhaustive view, if you can share it?
Miranda Ballentine [00:16:51] Yes. And actually, you're spot on. What I actually enjoy even more than the raw data are the trends, and there are some really interesting and cool trends. But let's start with some of the data. So, our initial goal was to see 60 gigawatts of corporate backed renewable energy by 2025. We set that goal in 2014, and honestly at that time we were not even at one gigawatt. So 60 gigawatts seemed like an absolute harebrained idea to our community. We had, you know, maybe four or five companies that had done deals, we had less than one gigawatt out there. Well, what's really exciting is that in 2022 this community just hit the 60 gigawatts. So we hit the 60 gigawatts three years early. A big, big hurrah coming from our community. We had a record smashing year. We had 16.9 gigawatts of new clean energy deals announced last year. That is almost 40% more than 2021. And that's a big deal in and of itself. I mean, the exponential curve that we've seen from 2014 to today is really phenomenal. But what's particularly shocking about 2022 was that it was a deeply uncertain year. There were shutdowns in the market when there were trade tariff concerns and the Commerce Department was investigating some solar companies and that kind of shut things down. For the first time, it's really been a much more constrained market. PPAs have been harder to come by; they've been more expensive. The inflation, the continued supply chain challenges that started during the pandemic with just getting components to wind and solar projects and the increase in cost that that's driven in the system. With all of those headwinds that we've never had in the industry, the way we did in 2022 to see an almost 40% growth in deals announced last year was mind boggling even to us, and we tend to be optimistic.
Adam Zuckerman [00:19:19] What's driving that? Is it companies that are reacting to popular sentiment or changing sentiment in the public? Is it price driven and economics? What are you seeing as the drivers for the companies that are saying, "You know what, we really need to delve into this and unpack our clean energy solutions?"
Miranda Ballentine [00:19:38] Yeah, well, there are a number of drivers. The very first driver that pushes companies to begin to decarbonize their power is a commitment to solving the climate crisis. There's not really much reason you would go through what it takes to do a clean energy deal versus just paying your utility bill. It's very easy to just pay your utility bill. Doing a long term power purchase agreement for wind or solar, these are very complicated deals, they require an enormous amount of legal support. They come with a lot of risk. You know, there is price risk in doing these kinds of deals. And frankly, most companies don't buy anything, let alone commodities, for more than a year at a time. So even the process of convincing a CFO to buy a commodity for ten straight years, you know, it really starts with a commitment to solving the climate crisis.
Miranda Ballentine [00:20:38] Now, the good news is the price of wind and solar and storage, which are still the three primary technologies that we're seeing deployed today... We are starting to see other things being deployed, some geothermal, some small hydropower projects, that kind of thing, but mostly still wind, solar and storage. And those prices have dropped a lot. And with the volatility in the fossil fuel markets, whether that's oil, natural gas going up, down, up, down, there is definitely an economic motivation too that companies are saying, "Can I hedge those future price fluctuations and solve my climate goals at the same time?" So there are a lot of motivations.
Adam Zuckerman [00:21:26] Are there government motivators that are forcing companies to look at renewables where the incentives say you'd be silly not to? Or is this really a starting point of, "We think climate change is real. It is real. We need to do something as a company," and then the CFOs come in with their energy purchasing teams and they kind of justify, "We can spend a little bit more in the long term to hedge that risk." What does that process actually look like internally for those backroom discussions that people might not have access to?
Miranda Ballentine [00:21:54] Yeah, well, you've asked two questions. So, most energy customers don't directly take the tax benefits. There are some, but typically those tax benefits go to the financiers, the developers or the utilities. Now, they do flow through to a lower cost of power. So they definitely are critical for the voluntary energy markets to have those government investment tax credits, production tax credits are critical. I will say there are some companies, Adam, that have a big tax appetite and will take tax equity investments. In fact, we've got a couple members of our community who are going to be sharing some of their stories about choosing to take a tax equity investment as their path to decarbonizing power versus a power purchase agreement, which is sort of the typical path. But most companies are not doing it because governments are compelling them to do it. And while more and more stakeholders are compelling companies, particularly staff, asking companies to do their part to solve the climate crisis, there is still a constituency in the ear of companies saying, "This is not core to your business, this is not good for shareholders." And so companies are constantly having to balance that push pull from their constituents who want them to do more to solve the climate crisis and the constituents who want them to do less. So that is not as clear cut as I think some people think.
Adam Zuckerman [00:23:33] Well, you're based in Washington, D.C. The companies that you're working with are located in the United States, and in fact, many have a multinational presence as well. Are you seeing an approach different in the U.S. for those entities than you are in Europe and elsewhere? Or is it really just harmonized and it doesn't matter where the companies operations are, they're taking a whole company approach?
Miranda Ballentine [00:23:54] The latter. They're taking whole company approaches. We are primarily U.S.-based multinational firms, but we have a number of community members that are non-U.S. based multinational firms. And in fact, at COP27 in Egypt, we just announced the launch of a new global initiative called the Clean Energy Demand Initiative. We are working with the U.S. State Department and a number of our major members. That initiative is currently funded by Google.org and Amazon, and we will be really supporting corporations in their global endeavors. And there are a number of CEBA-like organizations in other parts of the world. So, we have a sort of sister organization in Europe called RE-Source that supports European-based and U.S.-based multinational firms working on these issues in Europe. We have a great partnership with RE100 and the Climate Group who are working globally. The World Resources Institute has a number of initiatives supporting companies in different parts of the world. So companies are absolutely looking at two things globally, Adam. First, their own operations. Many U.S.-based multinationals have stores in other countries, have distribution centers in other countries, have data centers in other countries, have manufacturing in other countries, so they want to decarbonize their own facilities everywhere, and they're working on decarbonizing their supply chains. And of course, they've got suppliers in the United States, but they also have suppliers all over the world. So they're looking to help their supply chain partners also decarbonize their power.
Adam Zuckerman [00:25:41] All right. This is great. Let's talk about Scope 3 emissions and Scope 2 emissions then. What do you think the impact is? Most people, when they think of companies that are trying to reduce their energy impact, decarbonization, it's just their energy supply. But there's more to it; it's who you're working with also. Can you give a brief description of Scope 2, Scope 3, how important that is and what companies need to consider as they evaluate?
Miranda Ballentine [00:26:07] Yeah, and we should talk Scope 1 also. Of course, Scope 1 is any emissions that you directly control. So for example, if you're a retailer and you've got refrigerators in your facilities and you have a refrigerant leak, that is a Scope 1 emission. If you own a corporate fleet of vehicles or if you own a corporate fleet of airplanes and they are emitting, that would be your Scope 1. If you are a big enough manufacturer that you actually generate power, you have a turbine on site, that is your Scope 1. So it's anything that you absolutely directly control.
Miranda Ballentine [00:26:52] I'll tell you the funniest Scope 1 I had when I worked for Walmart was we owned some chicken farms in Mexico. So we had some Scope 1 emissions from our chicken farms in Mexico. And Scope 1 can be substantial, Adam. I will tell you, when I worked for Walmart, we once had a forklift accidentally knock over a refrigerant system at one store, and there was such a significant refrigerant leak that that one leak of Scope 1 emissions negated all of our energy efficiency, which is a Scope 2, savings for that year for all our stores in Brazil. So Scope 1 can be very significant and companies shouldn't forget about it.
Miranda Ballentine [00:27:37] Scope 2 are all of your purchased electricity. Meaning, I'm buying electricity from a utility and the utility owns the power plant. So the utility's Scope 1 is my Scope 2. And for most companies, Scope 2 will be the biggest piece of your portfolio. For most companies, it can be 75 to 80%. It depends, of course, on the particular type of company.
Miranda Ballentine [00:28:07] Scope 3 are your up and downstream indirect emissions. So for example, when your employees drive to the office, which they probably don't do much anymore, they are emitting carbon emissions out of the back of their cars. That's their Scope 1 and your Scope 3.
Adam Zuckerman [00:28:27] How do companies take that into account? So, is it realistic if you have 100 workers in an office to ask each of them, "What type of car do you drive and how long are you commuting?"
Miranda Ballentine [00:28:38] A lot of companies do, yes. But tracking and measuring Scope 3 emissions is incredibly hard and by far the least precise of all of the three Scopes of accounting today. Most Scope 3 portfolios are developed using averages. You might not ask all of your 100 or 100,000 or 1,000,000 employees, "Tell me exactly what kind of car you drive and exactly how many hours and exactly the fuel economy you're getting." You would use some sort of averages around the average car going, and the average commute is going to be a certain amount. And that's just one of many Scope 3 examples. Let's use a retailer as an example again. If I'm selling a t-shirt in my store, the t-shirt manufacturer had some emissions in their factory. And their factory emissions are their Scope 1 or Scope 2, and if I'm the retailer, say I'm Target or 7-Eleven or Walmart or anyone who's a retailer selling that t-shirt, that's my Scope 3 emissions.
Adam Zuckerman [00:29:59] Does that not double count, then, certain emissions or lead to a possibility of double counting?
Miranda Ballentine [00:30:05] I call it parallel accounting. And that is by the nature of the Scopes, there is parallel accounting. So if I happen to live in Maryland, so Pepco is my utility, Pepco's Scope 1 is my Scope 2. That's not double counted, it's parallel counted.
Adam Zuckerman [00:30:24] Understood.
Miranda Ballentine [00:30:25] Right. And so same across Scope 3.
Adam Zuckerman [00:30:29] Okay. So we've got Scope 1, we've got Scope 2, we've got Scope 3. We've got companies that are committing to reduce their dirty energy use, the clean generation three years early, 60 gigawatts of energy, which is amazing. What's next?
Miranda Ballentine [00:30:46] And let me put that 60 gigawatts in context. So, the 16.9 gigawatts from last year, that was equivalent to about 45% of all the wind, solar and storage capacity deployed last year, 45%. And the 60 gigawatts that has been deployed by corporate since 2014 is close to a third. Actually, more than a third; it's about 37% of all the wind, solar and storage deployed since 2014. So it's a substantial part of the wind and solar that we have deployed in this country that has been driven by voluntary procurement.
Adam Zuckerman [00:31:29] So let's ask one question about that then. So, how does that break down into the Scope 1, Scope 2? How much is self-generation where the companies own the assets versus their securing and procuring via PPA?
Miranda Ballentine [00:31:41] Yeah, that is a great question. I would say... What we track are utility scale projects. So the vast majority of that, it would be considered Scope 2. This is a really good point, Adam, because we're not even tracking at CEBA, on-site solar, on-site wind... And those are the two biggest on-site, but there is some on-site storage being done. I know a couple of stories of on-site micro hydro, if you happen to be right next to a run of river that you could do that. But the vast majority of what we count is utility scales, so it would be Scope 2 replacement. But there is a lot of Scope 1 replacement happening as well on-site, and we're actually seeing more and more of that.
Adam Zuckerman [00:32:30] That's great news. So what's your vision for what's next? What's the future of clean energy policy? What's the big hurdle that companies are going to commit themselves to soon?
Miranda Ballentine [00:32:39] Oh, I love this question. So, there are a couple of really fascinating key trends we've seen over the last few years. The first one is a shift in mindset from renewable energy to decarbonizing the grid. More and more what we're seeing are energy customers saying, "We see renewable energy as a means to an end, but not necessarily the end itself." So we're seeing companies, the leaders saying, "You know, I've already reached 100% renewable if I'm matching my power on an annual basis, which is kind of what the rules of the road say today. But I know that at any given moment, that particular factory is still using power from the grid that's being supplied by whatever the grid is being supplied by." So we're seeing more companies do things like focus on an emissions first approach. You may have seen a new partnership launched by several of our members called the Emissions First Partnership, where they're saying, "We want to make sure every renewable energy deal we do is the highest emissions impact deal." We see a group of customers focusing on, "Every one of my facilities needs to be supplied 24/7, 365, by zero carbon electrons." So we're really seeing more and more companies focusing on what is the material impact of procurement, and that is broadening the Scopes. That's having companies say, "You know, I'm really interested in hydropower. I'm really interested in storage. I'm really interested in green hydrogen. I might even be interested in nuclear power because I'm focused on decarbonization." So that's a big shift.
Miranda Ballentine [00:34:27] Likewise, we're seeing... this may sound like it's the opposite, but it actually isn't. So while they're more focused on decarbonization impact, they're also beginning to broaden their focus to say, "You know, when we look at our ESG, our Environmental, Social and Governance commitments as an organization, it's not just climate. And as renewable energy has matured, we don't want renewable energy that has potentially forced labor in the supply chain or mining human rights issues in the Democratic Republic of Congo. We don't want to deploy a solar project that's not pollinator friendly or in a migratory corridor." So we call this "thinking beyond the megawatt." We're seeing more and more companies say, "I want not only zero carbon power, but I want power that is environmentally sustainable and contributes to national security and grid resilience and has human rights and equity embedded from the beginning of the supply chain all the way to where the project is being built." So that's another interesting trend. And then the other two you already noted, which is Scope 3. I want to help my suppliers have carbon free energy, and globalization. I don't want to just decarbonize my power in the United States, I want to decarbonize everywhere. So those four key trends.
Adam Zuckerman [00:35:53] It sounds like there's a big movement towards a holistic procurement of energy, and almost to the sense of local is the new organic, in a strange way. And understanding that full impact of the energy purchasing decision.
Miranda Ballentine [00:36:07] Yeah, I'm not even sure it's necessarily local's the new organic, it's more... Well, maybe as a comparison that in carbon free energy, it's more like, CFE, carbon free energy is the new RE, renewable energy. CFE is the new RE.
Adam Zuckerman [00:36:25] Yeah, I think that's right. That is definitely right. All right. So a few more questions for you. We've talked about what companies are doing, but you've seen so many different evolutions in the space. What do you think listeners can do on an individual basis or family basis to make an impact?
Miranda Ballentine [00:36:44] Oh, gosh, I love this question, too. Well, certainly exploring rooftop solar for your house. This, of course, is very regionally specific. Unfortunately, there are still some states in the country where putting solar on your rooftop is not economically feasible or you don't have the incentive structures in your state. But more and more, with the cost of solar being what it is and with more and more very low interest loans, putting solar on your roof can be a really, really good approach. Of course, just being mindful about energy efficiency and your own footprint. Understanding your footprint, that's the first step. Go do an online calculator. Understand the footprint of the food you eat, the electricity in your home. Moving to electric vehicles when the time is right for your family is a great next step. And people tend to think, "Yeah, but my grid is not 100% clean, so if I'm plugging into a dirty grid, does that really make a difference?" In the vast majority of cases, what you're plugging into in the grid is cleaner than the petroleum that you would put in your tank. There are a few very dirty grids in the country where that's not the case, but for the most part, that is the case. And what it allows us to do is focus on decarbonizing a few thousand power plants as opposed to a few hundred million cars. So those are natural next steps.
Adam Zuckerman [00:38:23] All right. The second to last question of the day is what is one thing that you wish we discussed but we didn't?
Miranda Ballentine [00:38:29] Oh, this is always a good one. We talked about the importance of organized markets, that's number one. We talked about the power of energy customers and using your procurement to drive change, that's number two. We talked about material impact versus just renewables, that's number three. We talked about beyond the megawatt, that's number four. We talked about my life, that's always boring. I think we probably covered everything.
Adam Zuckerman [00:39:01] All right. Well, with that then...
Miranda Ballentine [00:39:04] Oh no, I'm sorry, there is one more thing. If you are listening and you are thinking about your own company, definitely give us a call, go to our website. It's cebuyers.org, which is a little tricky, but cebuyers.org, and you can learn more about becoming a member. We have a really fun and informative and inspirational member summit twice a year, but our spring one is the one that I would definitely encourage everyone to consider participating in. This year, it will be in Seattle, May 9th to 11th, quad hosted by four of our big members, Microsoft, Amazon, Starbucks and REI. So, we can guarantee maybe climbing walls and great coffee. So if you are a member of a city government, a member of a university, a member of a corporation, anyone who works for a company that uses a lot of power, come join us. We keep the barriers to entry very low to be a member of the community and we'd love to have you be part of the community.
Adam Zuckerman [00:40:16] There we go. Miranda, thank you so much for the time. We will keep an eye out for the 2022 deal tracker, which I'm sure will be absolutely fantastic. For our listeners, this is the Energy Impact Podcast. Please go find Miranda at cebuyers.org. Thank you so much.
Miranda Ballentine [00:40:33] Thanks, Adam.