Not just a lot of hot air: Walmart boosts sustainable rep with wind power

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Walmart has unveiled its first onsite large-scale wind turbine pilot project at  its distribution center in Red Bluff, Calif. The wind turbine, expected to be operational by this fall, will provide roughly one megawatt of power or 15% to 20% of the distribution center's yearly electrical use.

The new wind turbine features a tower height (265 feet) and a blade diameter (250 feet) approximately equal to the height of a 20-story building. 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 a PPA arrangement Foundation Windpower installs, owns, and operates the wind turbine and Walmart purchases the power produced under a long term agreement.

"We are using every tool in the tool box as we work toward our goal to be supplied by 100% 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 – 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 projects in operation, including:

  • A 90-megawatt wind farm in West Texas, providing 15% of power for over 300 Walmart stores and Sam's Clubs

  • 348 stores in Mexico supplied by wind power, providing 17% of energy needs for Walmart de Mexico

  • Fourteen stores in Northern Ireland supplied by wind power providing 100% of the electricity needs for those stores

  • In Massachusetts 12 mini wind turbines power a Walmart store in Worchester and 27 stores will have solar panel installations by 2014

  • 26 fuel cell sites in California supplying energy to local Walmart stores and Sam's Clubs

  • More than 140 solar installations across six states, including our 100th solar installation in California

"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."