Apple to sell power from renewables on the U.S. wholesale market

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Yesterday the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved Apple’s application to sell energy, capacity and ancillary services on the wholesale market, giving the technology giant a new role as an independent power producer (IPP).

In doing so, Apple follows on the heels of Google, which became an IPP in 2010. And while this is not a first for the tech industry, GTM Research Utility Solar Analyst Colin Smith told pv magazine that the breadth of Apple’s renewable energy portfolio makes them a “very interesting player in the marketplace”.

Apple currently holds 52 MW-DC of operational utility-scale solar at its data center in North Carolina, as well as a 168 MW project under construction in California and a 23 MW expansion planned in North Carolina. Additionally, according to the FERC order Apple owns 20 MW of generation in Nevada and 50 MW in Arizona.

Apple has additionally requested and been granted permission to sell ancillary services into the PJM Interconnection grid, which covers the mid-Atlantic and Midwest, the New York grid, and New England grid as well as grids in the Midwest, Plains States and U.S. South. This could mean future renewable energy and/or energy storage projects in these regions.

GTM’s Smith notes that there are barriers to entry to becoming an IPP, among them that generating and selling power is a “very complex skill set to bring in-house”, as well as the application process. But he notes that Apple’s move is a sign that big technology companies are becoming more proactive in the energy space.

“Companies are trying to take a more active role in procuring renewable energy, and understanding that space in general,” notes Smith.

Apple may begin wholesale power sales on Saturday.

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