Big box retailer Walmart on Monday officially launched its newly operational large-scale wind turbine at its distribution center in Red Bluff, Calif.
The wind turbine is Walmart's first onsite industrial-sized wind turbine and will generate about 2.2 million kilowatt hours of power, providing up to 20 percent of the distribution center's annual electricity use.
The General Electric SLE one-megawatt wind turbine is comparable in height to a typical 20-story building, with a tower measuring 265 feet tall and a blade spanning 250 feet in diameter.
Under the terms of a power purchase agreement (PPA) with Foundation Windpower, the project will contribute to energy expense savings as well as provide price certainty for the electricity produced, Walmart said.
Foundation Windpower installs, owns, and operates the wind turbine, while Walmart purchases the power produced at a fixed rate. Red Bluff was picked for the turbine’s installation because it provides “an ideal environment for an installation of this scale, with good wind conditions and available land already owned by Walmart,” Foundation Windpower said.
"With the Red Bluff wind turbine now fully operational, we look forward to continuing to explore renewable energy alternatives to support our operations and reduce our utility costs throughout the country and around the world," said Kim Saylors-Laster, Walmart’s vice president of energy.
The wind turbine in Red Bluff is one of more than 180 renewable energy projects underway worldwide as Walmart works towards its goal of being supplied by 100 percent renewable energy. In addition to a number of solar-based efforts – including a goal to bring solar energy to more than 75 percent of Walmart and Sam's Club stores in California, about 130 stores, by the end of 2013 – Walmart's current wind energy projects include:
- A 90-megawatt wind farm in West Texas, providing 15 percent of power for over 300 Walmart stores and Sam's Clubs and delivering the power purchase equivalent to annual usage of more than 20,000 average American homes
- 348 stores in Mexico supplied by wind power, providing 17 percent of energy needs for Walmart de Mexico and reducing CO2 emissions by 137,240 tons annually
- Wind power provides 100 percent of the electricity needs in 14 stores in Northern Ireland
- Additional wind energy projects include 12 mini wind turbines that power a Walmart store in Worchester, Mass., wind turbine installations at Walmart's food distribution center in Balzac, Canada, and micro wind installations at the Sam's Club in Palmdale, Calif.