Making the right moves in renewables

By Ellen Cooke

Here at National Grid, a team of three clean energy professionals – Corinne DiDomenico, Jim Calandra and Omar Muneeruddin – in Environmental Transactions (part of the Energy Procurement department and Customer organization), or “ETx,” – are responsible for meeting renewables and clean energy mandates for long-term contracts. At the same time, they’re working to help make sure our customers can enjoy cost-competitive energy from renewable and clean energy sources as we continue to battle climate change.

It’s not as easy to grasp as, say, buying a straight commodity, like electricity or gas. But, in simplest terms, we’re buying the renewable energy produced by these projects under long-term agreements with a variety of renewable energy developers. These developers are working on projects like wind farms, hydroelectric, solar and biogas (gas produced by the breakdown of organic matter, like agricultural waste or plant material).

Right now, our renewable portfolio of contracts consists of more than 60 projects, representing over 360 megawatts (MW) – 31 of which are currently operational, and the rest in various stages of development. Overall, our portfolio primarily consists of solar and wind projects – both distributed generation and utility-scale.

“We originally focused on utility-scale projects because economies of scale made them more competitively priced,” says Jim. He explains that we added distributed generation (where energy is produced onsite, closer to the point of consumption) to the mix as a result of new requirements.

Evaluating projects can take months of detailed and rigorous analysis. And the moves we make – and strategies we develop – could be better compared to a thoughtful game of chess.

“We examine everything from bid prices, to site control, to a project’s progress with interconnection,” Omar explains. “We serve a region of the country that’s quite progressive with its renewable energy goals. So it’s really exciting to contribute to the development and achievement of them – in a responsible way for all our customers.”

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