Intel Corp. is going “green” in a big way. The semiconductor giant said Monday it will purchase more than 1.3 billion kilowatt hours a year of renewable energy certificates, which will make Intel the largest corporate purchaser of green power in the U.S.
Among the alternative energy technologies that will be supported by the program are wind, solar and biomass.
“This is the single largest purchase of renewable certificates in the history of the program,” said Intel spokesman Bill Calder.
The certificates are a voluntary method used by corporations, universities, government agencies and others to promote renewable energy projects. Electrons produced at wind, biomass or solar power plants won’t go directly to Intel factories such as the company’s two Chandler complexes. But by purchasing certificates, Intel and other participants provide a market and a source of income for alternative energy producers, which supply their electricity to the general grid. As a result, the need to produce the equivalent amount of energy from polluting fossil fuel plants is eliminated.
“When it goes to the grid, there is no way to tell where the energy came from,” Calder said. “But there is a direct environmental benefit.”
Intel hopes its large purchase will further stimulate the market for green power, leading to added green-generating capacity, said CEO Paul Otellini.
Calder said that 1.3 billion kilowatt hours is equal to about 46 percent of Intel’s electricity use in the United States. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates the environmental benefits will be equal to removing more than 185,000 cars from the roads each year.
Sterling Planet, an Atlanta company, is serving as broker for the transaction, and the renewable energy purchases will be certified by the nonprofit Center for Resource Solutions’ Green-e program.
Mel Jones, president of Sterling Planet, said his company is still negotiating contracts with renewable energy suppliers, so it is too soon to know if any of the power will come from Arizona. The state has solar, wind, landfill gas and biomass projects in place or under construction.
“A certain percentage will come from the Southwest, including Arizona and one or two of the states around it,” he said.
Some of the generating facilities that will benefit are still being developed, he said. “This will provide money that will help to bring some of these projects to fruition,” he said.
By purchasing the certificates, Intel will pay a premium above what it would pay for electricity from conventional sources, he said.