Enhancing Conservation Through the Energy Transition

The Apex Conservation Grant program prepares to launch with distribution of more than $500,000 across three projects.

Climate change is one of the largest threats to biodiversity on our planet—if not the largest.

The good news is that one solution is al­ready playing a pivotal role in curbing the effects of climate change on our continent and across the globe. Renewable energy makes up nearly 28% of all electricity gen­eration worldwide. Wind and solar facilities deliver affordable, reliable electricity while producing zero air pollution, consuming little to no water, and contributing no cli­mate-altering emissions.

But the infrastructure required for every form of energy generation—indeed, every form of development, period—has some localized impact on the surrounding en­vironment.

With the company’s core value of sus­tainability top of mind, Apex strives to not only advance the sustainability of America’s energy system as a whole, but also enhance local ecosystems and hab­itats where Apex’s projects are developed and operated. That’s why the company created the Apex Conserva­tion Grant (ACG) program—a first in the industry.

(Rachel Repko)

With more than half a million dollars of grant funding already committed and a promising partnership established, Apex is setting a new standard in the renewa­ble energy sector.

Addressing Local Environmental Priorities

Eligible projects address local or regional wildlife con­servation, reforestation and restoration, or other types of environmentally beneficial projects. The grant—above and beyond any local, state, or federal permit require­ments for compensatory mitigation—is proportional to the size of its associated renewable energy project.

At Lincoln Land Wind in Morgan County, Illinois, the conservation grant will award $300,000 for a project that en­hances regional habitat for migratory tree-roosting bats, such as the hoary bat, the silver-haired bat, and the eastern red bat.

At Swiftwater Solar in Monroe County, Pennsylvania, the grant will award up to $120,000 to protect, restore, and manage regional forested and wetland habitat for native wildlife and plants, improve local water quality, and/or conserve or enhance existing wetland and natural habitats that will provide the greatest net benefit for ecologi­cal conservation.

And at Ford Ridge Wind in Ford County, Illinois, the grant will award $125,000 to protect, restore, or enhance regional grassland habitat for a variety of species, including game bird species such as the ring-necked pheasant and the bobwhite quail.

In partnership with external subject-matter experts, Apex is rigorously assess­ing and scoring applicant proposals for these first three projects. The first grant for Lincoln Land Wind will be awarded during the second quarter of 2021.

A New Path Forward Sets Precedent Through Partnership

Just concluding its first year, the ACG program has already demonstrated clear potential and evolved into a new, more impactful grant program with the help of a partner: the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF). Since its founding by Congress in 1984, NFWF has grown to become the nation’s largest private conservation grant mak­er, working with both public and private partners to sustain, restore, and enhance the nation’s fish, wildlife, plants, and hab­itats for current and future generations. To date, NFWF has generated $6.8 billion in total conservation impact.

Partnering with NFWF expands the po­tential impact of the ACG program dra­matically. Moving forward, for each new wind and solar project that Apex commercializes, the company will contribute $1,000 per megawatt to NFWF, which will match con­tributions at least 1:1—meaning that every dollar offered by Apex or its project sponsors for a specific conservation grant will be at least doubled, further benefiting regional and local communities. With input from Apex’s environmental team, NFWF will prioritize the dollars to fund conservation projects near the renewable energy facilities.

Furthermore, the alliance with NFWF as­sociates the ACG program with NFWF’s strong reputation for effectively working with dozens of federal agencies, leading corporations, and foundations. Practically speaking, the NFWF partnership creates the opportunity for Apex to expand its grant program to benefit all of its commer­cialized projects—an administrative under­taking that would be difficult, if not impos­sible, for Apex to accomplish on its own.

With more than half a million dollars of grant funding already committed and a promising partnership established, Apex is setting a new standard in the renewa­ble energy sector. In the years to come, the Apex Conservation Grant program will touch dozens of communities in truly meaningful ways—and hopefully set an example of impactful conservation work that will ripple throughout the clean en­ergy industry.