Walmart appears to be getting into wind power at its distribution centers in a big way—a really big way, in fact. In August, the Bentonville, Ark.-based retail giant launched its first on-site large-scale wind turbine pilot project at a DC in Red Bluff, Calif. The turbine is expected to provide about one megawatt of power, or 15 to 20 percent of the facility's yearly electric power requirements.
The new wind turbine is hard to miss. It stands 265 feet tall, with a blade diameter of 250 feet. Although the long-armed giant is located on Walmart-owned property, the retailer does not own the turbine itself. Instead, the retailer buys the power under a long-term Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Foundation Windpower, which installed, owns, and operates the turbine.
"We expect to reduce our energy costs from the day we flip the 'on' switch," said Greg Pool, senior manager of renewable energy and emissions at Walmart and project manager of the Red Bluff installation, in a statement. In addition to energy cost savings, the PPA arrangement will provide price certainty for the power Walmart buys—no small consideration in these days of volatile fuel prices.
Walmart is working toward a goal of having 100 percent of its needs supplied by renewable energy, Pool said in the statement. If the Red Bluff project proves successful, he added, the company will consider similar installations at other DC sites in the United States.