Jay Carlis of Community Energy, discusses his company’s renewable energy partnership with Major League Baseball’s Philadelphia Phillies.
|Ben Lack||Can you briefly tell us a little bit about the company.|
|Jay Carlis||Community Energy is one of the leading renewable energy marketing and development companies in the US. We are located right outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and we’ve been in renewable energy business for a little over 12 years. That’s pretty long time in the renewable energy business. We started by selling renewable energy credits from Pennsylvania wind farms to Pennsylvania institutions as a way of building the demands for new wind energy in the east. Back in ‘99 there really was very little wind energy in the east and our efforts to market renewable energy and particularly wind to voluntary customers really helped jumpstart the wind business in the east.
Over the last few years we’ve been developing solar projects while we continue to market renewable energy through utility partnerships and direct to commercial and institutional customers. We’re currently working on the largest solar project in Pennsylvania in Lancaster County. It is going to be 6 MW and we call it The Keystone Solar Project.
|Ben Lack||What part of the process do you end up managing,?obviously you sell, you’re selling credits and power to the end user, you also manage the development of the renewable energy product project itself?|
|Jay Carlis||Yes. We are the lead project developer. That ranges from interconnect studies to geotechnical analysis and site analysis, selling the electricity and renewable energy credits and getting projects ready for construction, bringing in a construction firm and taking it through to commercial operation.|
|Ben Lack||Be more specific and tell us where the wind farms are located. How has the community embraced wind and renewable power over the last couple of years. What have been the key factors to that?|
|Jay Carlis||There are wind farms all over Pennsylvania, from the western part of the state to North-eastern mountains. One of our first projects that we developed is called The Bear Creek Wind Farm and it is in the Scranton area, up in the mountains. We’ve seen companies and institutions particularly take a real positive view of wind power and what it means for their brands and their stake holders to make commitments to purchase wind. When it first started it was the University of Pennsylvania, Carnegie Mellon University, Giant Eagle Supermarkets. It was the Pennsylvania institutions that had the real commitment to growing renewable energy and development within the state. And they were influential in helping to make that happen in partnership with Community Energy. And in recent years we’ve seen greater focus on reducing carbon emissions for colleges and universities as well as businesses and that has helped grow the renewable energy sales.
In some ways it has shifted the focus of the voluntary renewable energy market to what it was in the beginning which was about jumpstarting a renewable energy industry locally. For many the mindset has shifted to reducing the greatest amount of carbon emissions.” And what we’re seeing here with The Phillies is, first of all, they purchase more renewable energy than any team in Major League in baseball. It’s a 100% of their grid connected electricity use. So just in that alone they have set themselves up to be the leaders amongst their peers and competitors. In this arrangement with Community Energy, The Phillies have committed to purchase some of that directly from Pennsylvania wind farms as well as the Keystone Solar Project that we’re developing in Pennsylvania. So they are really taking some of those renewable energy dollars and putting them towards the local community to help build demand for new wind and solar projects in the state.
|Ben Lack||How much is the premium is actually being placed on a renewable energy plan like this compared to just purchasing electricity from coal or natural gas or other sources of generation capacity?|
|Jay Carlis||It’s generally about 5-10% additional that institutions are paying. I don’t know the specific numbers right now The Phillies particularly but that’s a good range.|
|Ben Lack||And how is the deal with the Phillies? Are there other partnerships that help promote renewable energy initiatives with the baseball team?|
|Jay Carlis||It’s a two year deal so they made a commitment to work with us for two years. They’ve purchased renewable energy in the past. I think they’ll be going on 5 or 7 years total by the end of this agreement. This is a commitment that they made a while ago to be a leader among Major League Baseball teams when it comes to green power and they are continuing with that leadership.|
|Ben Lack||How did the leadership impact what the other major sports team do in the city?|
|Jay Carlis||It’s a good question. I can’t speak for other major sports team. But we’ve seen some reports of a possible solar project at a Lincoln Financial Field. And I don’t know if that’s influenced by the Phillies or not. But I think generally we’re seeing that the consciousness around green energy and sustainable energy in the greater Philadelphia area has dramatically increased over the years. Community Energy is based in the greater Philadelphia area. We’ve been working the main utility called PECO, on the PECO wind program for the past 7 years. And we are raising awareness amongst consumers and businesses in the regions of the importance of not just clean energy but making a difference in helping to build new clean energy locally.|
|Ben Lack||Why are you doing what you’re doing and why have you chosen to spend your time in this space?|
|Jay Carlis||For me, personally, it’s about the energy challenges that we face as a country and the world. There’s climate change, there’s uncertain future energy cost associated with fossil fuels. And there’s such tremendous opportunity for us to build a new green economy by developing new renewable energy projects that protect us against rising fuels costs in the future while creating jobs and protecting the environment. It’s a win, win, win all around. And that’s the real driver for me. For Community Energy, the mission has always been to create a demand for clean energy and then build the supply. The vision of Community Energy is the importance of creating a robust, voluntary market for businesses and individuals so that they can have a choice and vote with their dollars for what they believe in. There are renewable portfolio standards in many states that require numbers like 20% renewable energy by 2020. Our customers just don’t think that’s enough. And we agree with them. We are working with our customers to make sure that we have more renewable energy than what otherwise would be required. And that’s what’s exciting about being part of this mission.|