All the talk of alternative or renewable energy sounds good.  Who doesn’t want the environment to be healthy? However, there are many elements to consider when thinking about whether your company should utilize alternative energy sources.  Thoroughly understanding the benefits, opportunities, and caveats before moving to implementation is critical.

Using wind, water, solar, or geothermal power energy sources can improve your company’s environmentally-friendly reputation—a growing interest for your stakeholders, from employees to customers.  Renewable energy also enables a business to have a more secure energy supply and provides more stable energy costs, because they are not susceptible to the market fluctuations gas and oil experience.  Plus, companies that create their own energy don’t suffer the operating losses power outages create.  In addition, as the United States looks to reduce emissions and the country’s reliance on fossil fuels, companies that prep for alternative energy today may be ahead of possible mandates down the road.

Six years ago, The Green Power Group issued a detailed report on making the case for businesses to use renewable energy.  It discussed how FedEx, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, and other Fortune 500 companies already were buying wind-generated power from their retail power provider.  Lowe’s and Staples built on-site solar electric systems, while DuPont and General Motors used landfill gas to generate heat and steam for their industrial sites.  In fact, The Green Power Group estimated major U.S. corporations generate at least 10 percent of their annual electric load from renewable resources.

While the benefits are numerous, implementing alternative energy programs can be cost prohibitive for businesses.  However, assistance may be available. The U.S. Department of Energy created the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiencies at, which asks users to click on their state to find a lengthy list of opportunities.

In Pennsylvania, programs are identified at the local level, in addition to the state level.  Philadelphia, for example, has a green building initiative that provides incentives for solar energy.  The listings include grants, loans, and rebates available from the utility company and state-created programs, including the Sustainable Energy Fund, which offers grants, equity, or loans to individuals, for-profit, and not-for-profit organizations. Since 2005, the fund has awarded $20 million in loans and $1.8 million in grants for more than 100 projects.  The site also details the local, utility, and state-created programs for New Jersey organizations too.

Reviewing the assistance programs is a first step to identifying whether implementing a renewable energy project at your company may be feasible.  The final analysis may reveal the potential benefits justify the cost.  Better yet, it may show your business can’t wait another day to get started and reap the benefits.