April 25, 2019, by Rod Walton
(Renewable Energy World)
Minnesota-based food producer General Mills’ recipe for future energy use is investing big in wind power for the next decade and beyond.
The company this week announced it had signed a virtual 15-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with Roaring Fork Wind LLC, a joint venture between RES and Steelhead Americas. The deal pays for 200 MW of power generated at the venture’s Maverick Creek wind project in central Texas.
The PPA will offset energy produced to make General Mills products and pay for construction of the Maverick Creek site. The wind farm will produce renewable energy credits that, combined with the company’s previous agreement, should equal 100 percent of electricity used annually at General Mill’s domestic facilities, according to the release.
“General Mills began its milling operations more than 150 years ago with water power from the banks of the Mississippi River,” said John Church, chief supply chain officer and global business solutions officer at General Mills. “By learning from history, and tying back to our clean power roots, the equivalent of our domestic facilities’ annual electricity needs will be covered by clean wind power, helping to reach our climate commitment of decreasing our carbon footprint by 28 percent by 2025.”
Maverick Creek is just 10 miles from Cactus Flats, the wind project in General Mills’ first wind energy purchase agreement. The project is located in a particularly favorable wind area in central Texas, which is the leading state in the U.S. for wind energy production with more than 24,899 MW of installed capacity in that state alone.
“RES, in partnership with Steelhead Americas, is delighted to support General Mills’ effort to match 100 percent of the electricity used at company-owned domestic facilities,” said Graham Reid, CEO for RES in the Americas. “Delivering the Maverick Creek project brings RES closer to fulfilling our vision where everyone has access to affordable zero carbon energy.”
Major corporations may not always get their electricity directly from wind or solar projects, but they are increasingly investing in long-term PPAs which help fund expansion of the clean energy industry. Global companies last year doubled PPA commitments totaling 13.4 GW of renewable energy capacity, according to a Bloomberg New Energy Finance report.
More than 8 GW of that clean energy PPA total happened in the U.S, nearly triple the 2017 deals, according to Bloomberg NEF.