ACCC grants Equinix-led group authorisation to jointly negotiate access to green energy

From September 2, Equinix, Nike, H&M, HSBC Bank, and Goldman Sachs will be able to negotiate through a joint tender process access to better renewable energy deals in Australia.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has given Equinix Australia, along with the Australian arms of Nike, H&M, HSBC Bank, and Goldman Sachs, authorisation to form a renewable energy purchasing group that would allow them to jointly negotiate access to better deals for renewable energy.

The authorisation has been granted for 24 years until 30 September 2045, and it will allow the group to negotiate through joint tender process access to green energy from a solar or wind farm, as well as allowing the group to be connected to the National Electricity Market.

At the same time, the authorisation would allow each company to individually enter into a power purchasing agreement (PPA) with a seller, as well as to consult each other and make joint decisions regarding the ongoing administration and operation of certain aspects of the PPA during the term of the contract.

The ACCC had initially granted interim approval in mid-July. At that point, the group could conduct joint tender process and negotiations, but was unable to enter any supply contracts.

Equinix Australia managing director Guy Danskine explained that creating a joint application will deliver "several benefits".

"It provides several public benefits, including transaction cost savings, and promoting increased competition for the supply of energy and environmental benefits," he told ZDNet.

"Importantly, each of the organisations is a commercial consumer of electricity that is active in different segments of the economy. In addition, each applicant has long term sustainability goals, including the use of 100% renewable power for electricity needs and wish to maximise our impacts on the environment across our diverse industries."

For Equinix, its sustainability goals include becoming climate neutral globally by 2030.

"Equinix is leading by example and taking steps to minimise our carbon footprint and reduce our energy consumption -- all the while expanding our footprint. We do this by designing data centres with high energy efficiency standards and a long-term goal of using 100% clean and renewable energy for our global platform," Danskine said.

"This application for a joint renewable energy purchasing group, if approved, will be a significant step to meeting our goals as it enables us, with the other applicants, to purchase power from a solar or wind electricity generation facility in Australia. This is an important milestone that will help us work towards our climate neutral goal."

If no application for review of the determination is made to the Australian Competition Tribunal, the granted authorisation will be effective from 2 September 2021.

The ACCC said it has granted similar pooling arrangements for purchasing electricity in the past, and found it resulted in public benefits and had little, or no, public detriment.  

"We strive to identify and secure renewable energy sources to attain our 100% renewable goal. The ACCC's decision to grant authorisation is positive and we look forward to the application coming into force on 2 September.  However, if the application does not come into effect, Equinix will continue to look for sources and implement other green measures across our design, build and operation of our facilities to achieve our climate neutral goal by 2030," Danskine said.

Pledging to reach "100% renewable energy" has increasingly become a focus for many of the large tech firms. LG, SamsungAmazon, Google, and Oracle, are among some of the most recent that have vowed to reduce their carbon footprint.

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