The Arlington, Texas, manufacturing facility of General Motors is, as of October 9, getting 100% of its energy from the nearby Cactus Flats Wind Farm, a 148-megawatt facility based in Concho County. General Motors’ business offices in Fort Worth and Austin, as well as other facilities throughout the state, will also be powered by wind energy from Cactus Flats and from the Los Mirasoles Wind Farm, the company says.
GM has committed to powering all its global facilities with 100% renewable energy by 2050. Transitioning to renewables is “good for business and the environment,” says Rob Threlkeld, global manager of renewable energy for GM.
GM’s long-term approach to sourcing renewable energy has resulted in “millions of dollars in savings” for the automaker, Threlkeld says (via the Detroit Free Press). Texas is a deregulated market, meaning customers can buy electricity from any resource – and solar and wind are the lowest cost options, Threlkeld says. “We’re buying into long-term contracts that have no fuel components, so we can put price stability in the cost to build these vehicles.”
Threlkeld points out that manufacturing plants are the biggest users of energy for GM. Paint shops, in particular, use an average of 60% to 70% of the plant’s total energy consumption.
The electricity and associated renewable energy credits (RECs) generated by Cactus Flats are being sold under two separate power purchase agreements with General Mills and General Motors. Both companies have the option to keep or sell the associated RECs. General Mills says Cactus Flats is “one of the many initiatives” the company has to get it closer to reaching its climate commitment.
Cactus Flats consists of 43 wind turbines manufactured by Vestas, which is jointly maintaining and operating the facility with Southern Power. Southern Power is also performing the balance of plant operations of the facility.
General Motors’ sustainability director David Tulauskas said at the Environmental Leader & Energy Manager Conference in Denver last May that the business case for sustainability and energy management is clear, but pointed out that all environmental and energy issues have social implications as well. Tulauskas underscored GM’s vision for a future with zero crashes, zero emissions, and zero congestion. As it pursues these goals, the automaker is trying not to separate environmental issues from social ones.
“It’s easy to talk about them as separate things, but every single day, the decisions you’re making that have environmental implications, have social implications,” he said.
General Motors was named one of the top 100 green power users by the EPA The use of renewable energy by General Motors and the other companies on the EPA Green Power Partnership’s Top Partner Rankings is “proof that good business practices can also benefit the environment,” says James Critchfield, the partnership’s program manager.