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20 leaders in on-site renewable energy technology

20 leaders in on-site renewable energy technology

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Although other organizations boast a higher percentage of on-site clean power, Walmart's sheer size makes it the biggest on-site generator among U.S. businesses.

The mood has shifted dramatically in the past 18 months in the United States as far as federal support of renewable energy technology. So much so that the wind production tax credit that has helped inspired many onshore wind farms is likely to expire at the end of this year.

But state-level support for incorporating more solar, wind, biomass, hydro, geothermal and other clean energy sources continues to be relatively strong. Two examples come from my home state of New Jersey, where the governor just signed a new bill to help make solar investments more attractive and whether PSE&G is seeking to invest another $883 million in projects that would help turn landfills and unused industrial properties into solar farms and that would inspire more distributed capacity in the form of residential projects.

The U.S. Environment Protection Agency keeps several lists that rank which companies, organizations and communities are most active when it comes to clean energy. One of my favorite ones is its list of the top 20 on-site generation leaders, because it counts actual projects. (The other lists also count renewable energy credits.)

The mid-year 2012 list just came out, and I wasn't surprised to hear that Wal-Mart Stores was at the top, based on the enormous number of projects that is has under way. The EPA estimates that about 4 percent of the retailer's power is currently provided by renewable sources, or about 114.9 million kilowatt-hours (kWh).

Here's the whole top 20, ranked by the number of renewable kWhs per year:

  1. Walmart (114.9 million kWH, or 4 percent) - Biogas, solar and wind
  2. BMW Manufacturing (61.8 million kWH, or 37 percent) - Biogas
  3. Coca-Cola Refreshments (47.5 million kWH, or 6 percent) - Biogas
  4. U.S. Air Force (39.7 million kWh, or less than 1 percent) - Biogas, solar and wind
  5. City of San Francisco (31.8 million kWh, or 4 percent) - Solar
  6. Kohl's Department Stores (28.4 million kWh, or 2 percent) - Biogas
  7. SC Johnson & Sons (27.9 million kWh, or 15 percent) - Biogas
  8. City of San Jose, Calif. (27.5 kWh, or 15 percent) - Biogas and solar
  9. City of San Diego (20.3 million kWh, or 8 percent) - Biogas, small hydro and solar
  10. City of Portland, Ore. (13.8 million kWh, or 8 percent) - Biogas, small hydro, solar and wind
  11. Encina Wastewater Authority (11.9 million kWh, or 70 percent) - Biogas
  12. Adobe Systems (11.6 million kWh, or 19 percent) - Biogas
  13. City of Tulare, Calif. Wastewater Treatment Plant (11.3 million kWh, or 45 percent) - Biogas and solar
  14. Google (10.6 million kWh, or less than 1 percent) - Biogas and solar
  15. Safeway (9 million kWh, or less than 1 percent) - Biogas, solar and wind
  16. University of Iowa (8.7 million kWh, or 3 percent) - Biomass
  17. City of Santa Cruz, Calif. (6.6 million kWh, or 58 percent) - Biogas and solar
  18. Zotos International (5.5 million kWh, or 51 percent) - Wind
  19. National Renewable Energy Laboratory (5.34 million kWh, or 27 percent) - Solar and wind
  20. Central Michigan University (5.1 million kWh, or 8 percent) - Biomass

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Heather Clancy

Section Editor

Heather Clancy has written for United Press International, ZDNet, Entrepreneur, Fortune Small Business, the International Herald Tribune and the New York Times. She holds a degree from McGill University. She is based in New Jersey. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure