June 19, 2018

GERONIMO BLOG: How to Get Internal Buy-in for Your Virtual Power Purchase Agreement

With more companies choosing the option of a Virtual Power Purchase Agreement (VPPA), renewable energy is quickly emerging as a cost-efficient, profitable, and socially responsible way of doing business.

What are the key strategies successful companies have deployed in executing these VPPA deals? One key tactic is to obtain internal buy-in and support. If you’ve ever tried to kick start a renewable energy goal, you know that scaling internal silos and obtaining buy-in from executives can sometimes seem like an insurmountable task. But while it may seem like an easy win to present cost savings and profitability, buy-in often goes beyond cost and requires commitment and organization from all levels of your company.

To help you navigate your internal waters, we’ve outlined a few key tips that we hope will help you educate your staff and create champions for your renewable energy goals.

Engage cross-departmental decision makers

Begin by identifying internal departments impacted both operationally and financially (for the short-term, as well as the long-term).

Consider the following teams or departments within your company:

  • Marcomm: There is public relations and brand value in pursuing renewable energy projects. How can a VPPA boost shareholder, employee, and customer loyalty?
  • Finance and Accounting: VPPAs help mitigate current and future risks, such as energy price volatility and climate regulations, including carbon taxes. Will your finance and accounting teams advocate for a VPPA?
  • Operations: VPPAs increase an organization’s resilience to climate change and don’t change day-to-day operational activities and needs. Can your operations team provide estimated savings for choosing a VPPA vs an onsite remedy (like retrofitting light bulbs or HVAC systems)?
  • Human Resources: Companies that commit to and achieve sustainability goals are favored by job seekers. Will highlighting your company’s commitment to renewable energy give it a leg up in the hiring and retention processes?

Engage these teams early in the process to acknowledge and address any questions, but also to help create internal champions for your plan. Departmental buy-in builds the credibility and strength of project’s plan and prevents crucial operational details from slipping through the cracks.

As your project progresses, revisit with department heads to ensure approval and work with them to identify where the departmental senior management teams’ priorities are strongly aligned.

Build a Strong Renewable Energy Strategy Team

After initial discussions with key staff members, identify key sustainability champions and develop an internal evaluation team. A strong team will have the ability to identify problems, overcome obstacles, understand financial investments, and support your underlying goals for renewable energy. A few key team members include:

  • Sustainability champion: A strong influencer who leads the project/strategy and can build a strong business case.
  • Executive champion: An executive who fully supports the project/strategy – ideally the executive whose division is responsible for a major portion of the company’s energy consumption and carbon emissions.

Start with a Defined Plan and Clear Goals

Before evaluating renewable energy projects as a way to obtain sustainability goals, answer a few clarifying questions to kick start your efforts and prevent stumbling blocks down the road.

Ask yourself and your team:

  • Why are we doing this?
  • How will we achieve these goals?
  • How much will it cost?
  • Are the risks acceptable and manageable?
  • What are our sensitivities as they relate to: investments, change in operations, liability and risk, staffing requirements, cost savings, long-term commitments, utilization of land, and/or infrastructure updates/upgrades.

By engaging your staff early, working together to inform and educate one another, and cultivating internal champions, the process of evaluating VPPAs for renewable energy projects will be a simpler, quicker process. As with all initiatives, support for renewable energy projects takes time, but may offer a more competitive avenue for obtaining sustainability goals than other methods available. For more information about how Geronimo can help you educate and build your internal team of champions, contact us today.


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