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.
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.