News and analysis about energy in California with an eye toward renewables.

California Dominates EPA On-Site Renewable Energy List

Utah's coal-fired Intermountain Power Plant, from which the companies and governments on this list have avoided buying some power. | Photo: Arby Reed/Flickr/Creative Commons License

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released last week its updated "Top 20 On-site Generation list" for July 2012, and Californian municipalities and businesses dominate the list.

The EPA's list includes companies and local governmments in the EPA's Green Power Partnership that generate the most green power "on-site" -- on the business' premises or the municipality's buildings. Together, the Top 20 on-site generators generate and use 500 million kilowatt hours of distributed renewable power each year. That amount of energy generated by a coal-fired plant would have used more than 200,000 tons of coal. Not burning that coal means 581,300 fewer tons of CO2 in the atmosphere, equivalent to taking 120,000 cars off the road.

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Leading the list was WalMart, based on its onsite energy generation at its California and Texas facilities: almost 115 million kilowatt hours per year. The cities of San Francisco, San Jose, San Diego, Santa Cruz, and Tulare made the list, as did the Encina Wastewater Authority in Carlsbad, and the California-based businesses Google, Adobe Systems, and Safeway.

ReWire would point out how surprising it is that Adobe leads Google's on-site renewable generation by more than a million kilowatt hours per year, given Google's much-vaunted commitment to renewable energy, if we weren't afraid it would hurt our search rankings.

The EPA releases an updated Top 20 list each three months, and past lists are available online. The top 20 in order, followed by their onsite generation in kilowatt hours per year:

  1. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. / California and Texas Facilities (114,909,088 kilowatt-hours per year)
  2. BMW Manufacturing Co. / Greer, SC Facilities (61,863,438 kilowatt-hours per year)
  3. Coca-Cola Refreshments (47,514,240 kilowatt-hours per year)
  4. U.S. Air Force (39,732,226 kilowatt-hours per year)
  5. City of San Francisco, CA (31,821,946 kilowatt-hours per year)
  6. Kohl's Department Stores (28,377,000 kilowatt-hours per year)
  7. SC Johnson & Son, Inc. (27,908,000 kilowatt-hours per year)
  8. City of San Jose, CA (27,525,018 kilowatt-hours per year)
  9. City of San Diego, CA (20,344,825 kilowatt-hours per year)
  10. City of Portland, OR (13,813,550 kilowatt-hours per year)
  11. Encina Wastewater Authority (11,964,000 kilowatt-hours per year)
  12. Adobe Systems Incorporated (11,666,667 kilowatt-hours per year)
  13. City of Tulare, CA / Wastewater Treatment Plant (11,320,000 kilowatt-hours per year)
  14. Google Inc. (10,663,093 kilowatt-hours per year)
  15. Safeway Inc. (9,046,000 kilowatt-hours per year)
  16. University of Iowa / Main Campus Buildings (8,694,754 kilowatt-hours per year)
  17. City of Santa Cruz, CA / Wastewater Treatment Facility (6,620,466 kilowatt-hours per year)
  18. Zotos International (5,500,000 kilowatt-hours per year)
  19. National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) (5,349,059 kilowatt-hours per year)
  20. Central Michigan University (5,097,705 kilowatt-hours per year)

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About the Author

Chris Clarke is a natural history writer and environmental journalist currently at work on a book about the Joshua tree. He lives in Joshua Tree.
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