Kohler Co. has signed a 15-year deal with Enel Green Power North America to purchase 100 MW of wind power annually that will power the company’s operations in the US and Canada.
Power will come from the Diamond Vista wind farm near Salina in Kansas, a nearly 300-MW project that Enel acquired from the renewable energy developer Tradewind Energy. Construction has already begun on the new wind farm, and it is expected to begin operations by the end of this year.
When the wind project comes online, Wisconsin-based Kohler says its share will be sold to the wholesale electric market, with the company receiving renewable energy credits equaling the company’s total annual electricity needs for its 85 manufacturing facilities, offices, and warehouses. This project is expected to lower Kohler’s global GHG footprint by 26%.
Rob Zimmerman, director of sustainability at Kohler, said that besides this investment, the company plans to drive energy efficiency in their manufacturing processes, buildings, and truck fleet as well as install onsite renewable energy projects. In addition, Kohler intends to test and implement new manufacturing technologies, and develop new products and materials that require less energy to produce.
The PPA for wind energy is a component of Kohler’s strategy for achieving the goal of being “net zero” in GHG emissions by 2035. “Aiming for sustainable business practices, we set annual footprint-reduction targets for energy, GHG emissions, water usage, and solid waste-to-landfill,” according to the company. “Our initiatives run the gamut from capital investment to improve processes and equipment to switching from incandescent to LED light fixtures.”
At Kohler’s pottery in Foshan, China, they rerouted waste heat from the shuttle kiln to the air-handling units in the cast shops and drying rooms, reducing the facility’s use of natural gas by more than 20%. Last year the company released its first public sustainability and stewardship report. They join several other corporations, including Nike, Microsoft, and AT&T, that recently signed deals to purchase renewable energy for their facilities.
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