Lots of Watts: Building an Energy Cohort to Buy Big Renewables

Chris O'Brien Presenter
Director, Business Development
CustomerFirst Renewables
Joe Higgins Co-Presenter
Director of Infrastructure Operations
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Stephen Muzzy Co-Presenter
Climate Programs, Senior Manager
Second Nature
Delicia Nahman Co-Presenter
Sustainability Officer
Lehigh University
Aurora Winslade Co-Presenter
Director of Sustainability
Swarthmore College
Sun, 10/27: 1:00 PM  - 4:30 PM 
Half-Day Workshop 
PM Pre-Conference Workshop 
Room: 202C - Energy 
Cohorts of colleges and universities are aggregating energy loads to achieve economies of scale when sourcing renewable energy. This workshop helps campuses achieve dramatic reductions in greenhouse gases by sourcing cost-effective, large-scale, renewable energy. Renewables cohorts improve project economics, including lower PPA prices and risk-adjusted contract terms. Cohorts also reduce soft costs, gain internal momentum, boost confidence to act, and leverage collaboration. Attendees will learn best practices for pursuing aggregated renewables power purchase agreements (PPAs), understanding the multifold economic, risk-management, reputational and academic benefits that can engage your campus stakeholders in supporting an aggregation strategy. We will examine the benefits of this approach by scrutinizing several examples, including MIT's 60 MW solar aggregation with Boston Medical Center and Post Office Square, and the Pennsylvania Higher Education Cohort (PHEC), with Lehigh University, Lafayette College, Muhlenberg College, and Dickinson College. Aggregation benefits come with challenges, some which can be avoided, and others which need close management to keep progress on track and avoid costly delays. The facilitators include individuals who have played leadership roles in multiple successful renewables aggregations as well as others who are developing new campus renewables cohorts.

Audience Empowerment

Participants will work in small groups to conduct exercises that will help prepare them for initiating or joining a renewable energy buyers cohort:
  1. Energy profiling – how your own energy profile impacts your renewable energy choices;
  2. Partner inventorying – identifying ideal and practical aggregation partners;
  3. Stakeholder and decision-maker mapping – who your stakeholders are and mapping their involvement and the road to getting your project internally approved

Primary Topic Area


Secondary Topic Areas

Air & Climate
Investment & Finance

Session Level

Intermediate Level

Intended Audience

Sustainability Staff

Does your submission have a focus on a particular institution type? (select up to three)

Community and Technical Colleges
Hispanic Serving Institutions
Historically Black Colleges and Universities
Liberal Arts Colleges
Other Minority Serving Institutions
Research Universities
Special Focus Institutions
Tribal Colleges