Cisco, 3M, Kimberly-Clark and Jackson Family Wines have announced commitments to deploy onsite solar energy and improve energy efficiency as part of an Obama Administration call to action.
In total, 50 companies, states, communities and multifamily housing leaders from across the country have announced commitments representing more than 35 megawatts of solar deployed – enough energy to power thousands of homes – as well as energy efficiency investments that will lower energy bills for more than 400 million square feet of buildings.
As part of its commitment, Cisco will increase its onsite solar capacity to 2.7 MW worldwide by 2015. The company says this will help it meet its goal of using electricity generated from renewable sources for at least 25 percent of its global electricity demand every year through 2017.
Cisco also is joining 3M, Kimberly-Clark and other industry leaders in committing to provide a significant discount on solar to employees, which is expected to result in the addition of 1,000 systems, or 5 MW, of solar across their aggregate employee base in North America by 2016.
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California winemaker Jackson Family Wines has committed to installing 6.5MW of solar at locations throughout the state, including the Kendall-Jackson, La Crema, Cambria, Stonestreet, Carmel Road, Murphy-Goode and Hartford wineries by 2016. This will provide over 60 percent of the company’s electricity usage from emissions-free renewable power.
Earlier this year, the White House hosted a Solar Summit celebrating cross-sector leadership on solar and calling for commitments to support solar deployment and jobs through the expanded use of solar in homes, businesses and schools. In May, President Obama announced more than 300 private and public sector commitments to create jobs and cut carbon pollution by advancing solar deployment and energy efficiency. The commitments represent more than 850 megawatts of solar deployed — enough to power nearly 130,000 homes.
Since 2009, the U.S. has increased its electricity generation from solar more than ten-fold. In 2013 alone, the price of commercial and residential solar declined by more than 12 percent. This is driving more and more Americans to install solar panels at their homes and businesses, and is supporting tens of thousands of solar jobs across the country. In the first half of 2014, more than half a million homeowners and commercial customers installed solar.
This has been great for business — to date, renewable energy initiatives have saved 53 Fortune 100 companies $1.1 billion annually and decreased their annual CO2 emissions by approximately 58.3 million metric tons, according to a report by Calvert Investments, Ceres, David Gardiner & Associates, and World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Pursuing sustainability projects is gradually becoming “business as usual” for many of these companies.
A cornerstone of President Obama’s climate change action strategy has been proposing carbon emissions restricting on existing power plants, the single largest source of carbon pollution in the country. In June, the president unveiled his proposal, which includes cutting carbon emission from the power sector by 30 percent nationwide below 2005 levels and reducing particle pollution, nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide by more than 25 percent as a co-benefit. President Obama said this would avoid as many as 6,600 premature deaths, up to 150,000 asthma attacks in children and up to 490,000 missed work or school days — providing up to $93 billion in climate and public health benefits.