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CEO Update to Members on CEBA’s Support for Voluntary Corporate Action on Grid Decarbonization

By Kevin Hagen, Interim CEO of CEBA and CEBI

This has been an exciting year for the Clean Energy Buyers Alliance, and together we are playing a crucial role in driving the clean energy transition and reducing carbon emissions in the electric power system. Energy customers have voluntarily procured more than 71 gigawatts of clean energy in the United States since 2014, and in 2022 alone, these procurement deals were equivalent to 70% of the carbon-free energy capacity added to the grid. At the same time, we also face a new and evolving accountability landscape, and the Clean Energy Buyers Association (CEBA) is hard at work to advocate for policies that support and advance voluntary markets and to equip our members with the information and tools needed to meet these new challenges.

These market evolutions include the ongoing process to update the Greenhouse Gas Protocol and the FTC Green Guides as well as the recent California law requiring companies that operate in California and make more than $1 billion in annual revenues to report both their direct and indirect emissions. As early as January, large U.S. companies that raise money on European stock exchanges will have to begin compiling information about their climate risks, strategies, and emissions, to comply with European Union disclosure rules, and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission may finalize a narrower climate disclosure rule in the year ahead.

We support and welcome improvements to modernize the accounting, reporting, and recognition systems that capture the impact of voluntary action. These systems should:

  • Protect existing investments and contracts while increasing the accuracy and granularity of metrics,
  • Allow various approaches for achieving success, and
  • Open doors for innovative solutions to decarbonization.

As I noted in a recent Utility Dive op-ed, we recognize that to expand the market, increase the numbers of corporate and institutional customers buying clean energy, and maximize the benefits for all of us, we need collaborative engagement and partnership to improve emissions accounting and marketing associated with corporate and institutional energy procurement.

Here is an update on CEBA actions and recommendations we are making to support our members and community in this evolution:

  • Earlier this year, the Clean Energy Buyers Institute (CEBI) submitted recommendations to the organizations overseeing the Greenhouse Gas Protocol — World Resources Institute (WRI) and World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) — that include adding locational and temporal data hierarchy to accounting provisions in the protocol. We also provided recommendations to the FTC that urge clarifying in the guides that energy customers should have high-quality, detailed data — in addition to the energy attribute certificates they own — to substantiate claims.
  • Last week, CEBA and CEBI signed a Clean Air Task Force letter with 15 other companies, academics, NGOs, and data providers, urging WRI and WBCSD leaders to improve location- and market-based reporting in the Greenhouse Gas Protocol’s Scope 2 Guidance and to add new and separate consequential impact accounting and reporting disclosures. As the letter notes, we are confident that including these three elements would best ensure the accuracy, effectiveness, and relevance of an updated Scope 2 Guidance.
  • We will be submitting a response next week to the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) in its Call for Evidence on the Effectiveness of the Use of Environmental Attribute Certificates in Corporate Climate Targets. In addition, we encourage all CEBA members to submit your own responses and let SBTi know it’s important to continue and enhance the use of the market-based certificates that underpin global voluntary markets and corporate climate action.

All these voluntary standards are global in scope, and we recognize that accountability demands for customers are international. As we step up momentum in these efforts, CEBA has also announced an opening for a new Director of Global Greenhouse Gas Accounting & Climate Recognition to lead these efforts. This position will support our aim to unlock $1 trillion in private investment for clean electricity projects this decade and accelerate the global clean energy transition. We’ve already had some wonderful candidates express interest, and if you know of someone who you think would be a good fit for the position, please share this with them right away.

Together, our energy customer community can continue to demonstrate the ingenuity and commitment you have already shown in pursuing and innovating for grid decarbonization. We will need to be clear and diligent in our accounting of our emissions reductions, and at the same time, our potential for global impact and motivating an international clean energy transition has never been greater. We at CEBA look forward to continuing to work with all of you and enable your great progress.