Risk & Compliance

Wal-Mart Invests in Wind

The retail giant will use energy from a wind farm to power 15 percent of its energy needs in its 360 Texas facilities.
Stephen TaubNovember 20, 2008

Wal-Mart Stores announced it is making a substantial investment in wind energy as part of a company-wide goal to eventually be supplied by 100 percent renewable energy.

The world’s largest retailer pledged to use wind power to supply up to 15 percent of its total energy load in roughly 360 Texas stores and other facilities.

The renewable energy will come from a Duke Energy wind farm under construction in Notrees, Texas, that is expected to begin producing electricity for Wal-Mart by April of 2009.

“We’re purchasing renewable power at traditional energy rates,” said Kim Saylors-Laster, vice president of energy for Wal-Mart.

She added that the wind power purchase will result in a significant decrease of greenhouse gas emissions and aligns with Wal-Mart’s long-term goal of being supplied by 100 percent renewable energy.

It is not a coincidence that Wal-Mart is launching this effort in Texas. The state is considered the leader in wind power development, having the most installed capacity, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).

Wal-Mart elaborated that the project will provide roughly 226 million kilowatt-hours of renewable power each year, which it said is the energy equivalent of washing 108 million loads of laundry — enough for every household in Austin, Texas, for a year.

By purchasing that amount of clean, renewable energy, Wal-Mart said it will avoid producing more than 139,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year, equal to taking approximately 25,000 cars off the road.

The need for alternative forms of energy gained renewed support this past summer when the price of a barrel of oil approached $150. It even played a fairly significant role in the presidential campaign.

However, earlier this month, billionaire oil trader T. Boone Pickens backed off on his plan to develop a planned wind farm, according to Reuters.

The wire service also pointed out that FPL Group, the largest U.S. wind power generator, cut its planned 2009 spending on new projects.