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August 09, 2012

Walmart Announces a Blowout in California-Not a Sale, But a Wind Turbine



Have you caught wind of the news at Benton, Arkansas-based discount retailer Walmart? This week, the company unveiled its first onsite industrial-scale wind turbine pilot project at its distribution center in Red Bluff, California. The wind turbine, which is expected to be operational by this fall, will provide roughly one megawatt of power—or 15 to 20 percent of the distribution center’s yearly electrical use.The new wind turbine tower is as high as a 20-story building (265 feet), with a blade diameter of about 250 feet, which probably makes it the tallest edifice in the northern California city, with a population of 14,000.

 The GE SLE 1.0 Megawatt Wind Turbine is projected to produce approximately 2,200,000 kilowatt hours annually. Over the term of the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) the project will contribute to energy expense savings, as well as provide price certainty for the electricity produced. Under the long-term agreement, Foundation Windpower, LLC—based in Menlo Park, California—will install, own, and operate the wind turbine, and Walmart  will purchase the power produced.

“We are using every tool in the tool box as we work toward our goal to be supplied by 100 percent renewable energy, and wind energy is an attractive technology for Walmart,” said Greg Pool, senior manager of Renewable Energy and Emissions at Walmart and project manager of the Red Bluff installation. “We found the perfect environment for an installation with the Red Bluff project — [offering] good wind conditions and open land that we own. As a result, we expect to reduce our energy costs from the day we flip the on switch. Should the technology at Red Bluff prove successful, Walmart will evaluate the potential for large-scale turbine installations at other distribution center sites in the United States.”

The wind turbine in Red Bluff joins 180 renewable energy Walmart projects in operation—among them:

  • A 90-megawatt wind farm in West Texas, which provides 15 percent of operating power for more than 300 Walmart stores and Sam’s Clubs
  • In Mexico, 348 stores that are powered by wind, providing 17 percent of the energy used by Walmart de Mexico
  • 14 stores in Northern Ireland that are completely powered by wind energy
  • In Massachusetts, 12 mini wind turbines, which power a Walmart store in Worcester
  • In California, 26 fuel cell sites, which supply energy to local Walmart stores and Sam’s Clubs.

 “We are delighted to have completed this project with Walmart and Tehama County. Foundation Windpower developed, financed and constructed this project with Walmart whose leadership and strategic commitment to sustainable, energy efficient operations have improved this distribution facility’s economic competitiveness and environmental impact,” said Matt Wilson, CEO of Foundation Windpower. “Foundation Windpower looks forward to being Walmart’s partner in this project’s long-term operation.

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Edited by Brooke Neuman


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