Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo & Co. is committed to achieving 100% renewable power by 2017. Here, Mary Wenzel, Senior Vice President, Head of Environmental Affairs, sets out the bank’s plans for meeting this goal.

Why is Wells Fargo aiming to become 100% renewable?

“We are committed to leveraging opportunities, throughout our value chain, to accelerate the transition to a lower-carbon economy and reduce the impacts of climate change on our customers and communities. Maximizing operational efficiency is one way we “walk the talk” when it comes to sustainability, and it helps us manage long-term expenses, reduce the environmental impact of our energy consumption and set a positive example for other companies of our size and in our sector.”  

How did you decide on your 100% goal?

“During the development of our 2020 CSR goals and commitments, which include sustainability, we sought to identify critical societal issues that were relevant to our business and where we could deliver meaningful impact through strategic corporate responsibility and philanthropy programs.

“On the environment front, we determined that our overarching aspiration would be to accelerate the transition to a lower carbon economy. We mapped out a handful of goals and commitments that would help us advance this priority, including purchasing renewable energy to power 100 percent of our global operations by 2017 – with a transition to long-term agreements that fund new sources of green power by 2020. This aligns with our environmental aspiration, while providing long term value to Wells Fargo.”

What have been your achievements so far?

“In 2015, we installed our largest solar panel system to date – 350 kW or around 520,000 kWh annually – on our operation center in San Leandro, California, reducing the building’s annual consumption of energy from the grid by about 25 percent along with related greenhouse gas emissions.  We also have 11 solar-powered retail stores in Denver, three in Los Angeles, and one in Hialeah, Florida. 

“In addition to our renewable commitment, we have committed to achieving Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design – LEED – certification for 35 percent of all of our leased and owned square footage by 2020, and since 2013, we have been purchasing Renewable Energy Credits for our LEED portfolio.  These and other efforts and initiatives to date have positioned us very well to meet our 2020 goal of reducing carbon emissions by 45 percent from a 2008 baseline.”

What challenges and opportunities are you experiencing as you work towards your 100% goal?

“To meet our commitment, we estimate that we will need to purchase just over 2.1 million MWh of RECs by 2017 while simultaneously putting a plan in place that will allow us to transition to long-term contracts by 2020. We know this will not be easy. Making longer term strategic commitments to purchasing energy from diverse generation sources will require a major shift in the way we think about and approach energy procurement. But we see it as a risk-mitigation strategy that will benefit Wells Fargo over time while neutralizing our carbon footprint, which benefits everyone.”  

What are your plans for switching to renewables going forward?

“We’ll meet our 2017 goal primarily through purchasing RECs, with a transition to new sources of green power by 2020. Our strategy will likely include a mix of Virtual Power Purchase Agreements, Directed Power Purchase Agreements, On-Site Solar and Utility-Sponsored Programs. We expect to have our first sizeable VPPA in place by the close of 2016.”

Why do you think it is important for companies to help increase demand for renewable electricity?                                 

“The need to address climate change is urgent, and private sector organizations like Wells Fargo have unique expertise and capabilities that can help provide solutions to the challenges facing our customers and communities. We can leverage our respective value chains to create meaningful solutions within our products and services, as well as our operations and the way we and our employees engage with our communities.

“It is important that financial institutions, in particular, work with multiple stakeholders so that these solutions can become realistic, workable, accessible options for more individuals, families, businesses and municipalities.  

“As an example of the role financial institutions can play, since 2012, Wells Fargo has invested in and financed more than $52 billion in renewable energy, clean technology, ‘greener’ buildings, sustainable agriculture and other businesses that seek to mitigate the impacts of climate change. And in 2015, projects owned in whole or in part by Wells Fargo generated 10 percent of wind and solar photovoltaic energy produced in the U.S.”

Why do you think RE100 is a good initiative to join?

“We’ve set an ambitious goal, and we know that collaboration is essential to our being able to achieve it. Membership of RE100 provides us access to companies that are making the most progress in meeting similar goals and thought leaders who are driving a movement toward greater private-sector accountability and action on climate change.”  

What else are you doing to help drive a low carbon economy?

In addition to building sustainability into every aspect of our operations, and into our business through our robust Environmental and Clean-Tech Financing programs, we have launched corporate philanthropy programs that leverage our expertise in helping businesses succeed to nurture entrepreneurs and small businesses focused on clean tech innovation and energy efficiency.

“Among other environmental philanthropy initiatives, two signature programs are helping to advance our goal of accelerating the transition to a lower carbon future. 

“Our Clean Technology and Innovation – CTI – program provides financial support to universities, think tanks, incubator and accelerator programs, and other organizations focused on research, development, and the commercialization of new clean technologies.

“And the Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator – IN2 –, a five-year, $10 million program, co-administered by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory – NREL –, provides funding and technical assistance for startups whose technologies show promise for reducing the energy impact of commercial buildings. After testing and validating the technologies at NREL’s lab, we pilot them on select Wells Fargo facilities.”

Last updated: September 2016