Minneapolis-based U.S. Bancorp is adding more renewable  electricity through a growing Xcel Energy program.

The country’s fifth largest banker, is ordering more wind-and-solar power through Xcel’s “Renewable Connect” program. This batch will power its West Side Flats location in St. Paul, which hosts an operations center and administrative offices.

 “Like many of our customers, U.S. Bank wanted to find a way to improve sustainability in its operations and Renewable Connect is another way we’re delivering that option to our customers.” said Chris Clark, president, Xcel Energy-Minnesota

Energy dedicated for Renewable Connect comes from the Odell Wind farm in southern Minnesota and the North Star Solar Farm in Chisago, Minn. 

 “This opportunity to work with Xcel to power our operations center and other buildings with renewable energy is an example of how we are looking to continue to make a positive impact on the environment,” said Restor Johnson, USB head of corporate real estate.”

Renewable Connect is an option for customers who want to take advantage of renewable energy without long-term contracts or purchasing equipment. Customers can choose how much of this higher-priced energy they wish to subscribe and the length of their commitment.The renewable energy isn’t directly distributed to the USB facilities. Rather USB essentially is buying renewable energy credits that cover the incremental production and it gets credit as part of its sustainability goals.

USB is a member of the Carbon Disclosure Project, an independent outfit that tracks and discloses environmental performance. USB recently received an “A-‘’ grade for environmental responsibility, up from a “D” in its first year of 2015. The company said it has markedly increased its commitment to sustainable operations and documentation.

 USB has invested more than $1.5 billion in renewable energy projects in the U.S. in 2016; the equivalent of powering 300,000-plus households and creating 22,000 jobs, while also reducing pollution.

The 15-year-old Carbon Disclosure Project works with thousands of companies, cities and other institutions globally to measure and disclose their carbon dioxide output and work with them to take “meaningful steps to address climate change, deforestation and water security. This ensures their long-term sustainability and ability to adapt to related policy and regulatory policy changes, such as the Paris Agreement that covers climate change steps among nations. 

The Trump administration pulled the U.S. out of that pact, in a controversial move. However, many states and corporations have renewed their commitment to the principals.

Xcel CEO Ben Fowke said earlier this year that the company, prodded a decade ago by state regulators and environmentalists, last year generated a quarter of its electricity from renewable sources, largely wind, and expects to hit 40 percent by 2021. Renewable energy and increased efficiency should lead to a 45 percent reduction in carbon emissions from 2005 output.

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