General Motors announced this week that all of its Ohio and Indiana manufacturing facilities will meet their electricity needs through 100% renewable energy. GM is buying a total of 200 megawatts of wind energy from Ohio and Illinois wind farms. Once the turbines come online by the end of 2018, renewable energy will power 20% of GM’s global electricity use.
The new wind deals are enough to meet the electricity needs of Fort Wayne Assembly, Marion Metal Center and Bedford Casting plants in Indiana and Lordstown Assembly, Defiance Casting Operations, Parma Metal Center and Toledo Transmission plants in Ohio.
“With this 200 MW wind purchase, we’re locking in to long-term contracts with fixed energy costs,” Rob Threlkeld, global manager of renewable energy at GM, told Energy Manager Today. “This helps us bring more green power to the grid and reduce costs over time.”
GM is leveraging energy efficiency and a mix of onsite and offsite renewable energy solutions to reach its 100% renewable energy goal. The company’s four-part strategy acknowledges how its energy and product strategies intersect. As GM works toward advancing zero emissions vehicles, it makes business sense to create a cleaner grid on which to drive them. The company uses EV batteries in tandem with a solar array to power an office building at its Milford Proving Ground in Michigan and is researching the use of fuel cells as energy storage in the future.
“The first step in meeting our 100 percent renewable energy commitment is reducing the energy intensity of our operations overall,” said Threlkeld. “All seven facilities that will have their electricity needs met through this wind deal have achieved the ENERGY STAR Challenge for Industry, meaning they reduced energy intensity by at least 10% in five years or less.”
Altenex, an Edison Energy Company and independent renewable energy advisor, supported GM in the negotiation of the power purchase contracts. GM will be the sole user of the Northwest Ohio Wind farm, a 100 MW project owned by Starwood Energy Group. Swift Current Energy will provide 100 MW from its HillTopper Wind Project in Logan County, Illinois.
GM has used renewable energy for decades, saving about $5 million annually as a result. Renewable energy use supports a resilient grid while offering more stable energy pricing. GM made its first wind purchase in 2014 for several of its Mexico operations, followed by deals supporting Texas wind farms for 30 and 50 megawatts of energy. The company uses solar power at 26 facilities and generates electricity from landfill gas at two assembly plants.
In June, news reports announced that GM and Walmart had become some of America’s biggest purchasers of renewable energy.
GM is a member of RE100, a coalition of companies committed to going 100% renewable.