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GM Buys More Electricity from Alternative Power Sources

Company wants all power to come from green sources.

by on Sep.20, 2017

GM is aiming to power all of its U.S. facilities with alternative energy sources, such as wind and solar.

General Motors is moving closer to its goal of using alternative energy to power its factories across the United States and end for good the company’s century-long use of electricity from coal-fired power plants.

GM announced this week the company’s plant in Ohio and Indiana, including the assembly plants that build the Chevrolet Cruze and Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickup trucks, will meet 100% of their electricity from renewable energy by the end of 2018.

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GM said it plans to use 200 megawatts of wind energy from wind farms in Ohio and Illinois. Once the turbines come online by the end of 2018, renewable energy will power 20% of GM’s global electricity use, GM said in a statement. The goal is use a mix of onsite and offsite renewable energy solutions to reach to meet 100% of its energy needs.

The new wind deals will provide enough energy to meet the electricity needs of Fort Wayne Assembly, Marion Metal Center and Bedford Casting plants in Indiana and Lordstown Assembly, Defiance Casting Operations, Parma Metal Center and Toledo Transmission plants in Ohio.

(GM powering Texas plant using wind power. For the story, Click Here.)

“Technology is driving solutions for mobility and safety in our vehicles, as well as the new energy solutions that build them,” said Gerald Johnson, GMNA vice president of Manufacturing and Labor. “This is the way we do business: offering vehicles that serve our customers’ lifestyle needs while providing sustainable solutions that improve our communities,” Johnson said.

GM's efforts to use renewable energy sources, includes using this 800kW solar array at its Warren (Michigan) transmission plant.

GM will be the sole user of the Northwest Ohio Wind farm, a 100 MW project owned by Starwood Energy Group. Swift Current Energy will provide 100 MW from its HillTopper Wind Project in Logan County, Illinois.

In the past, GM had often built, owned and operated coal-fired power plants adjacent to its largest assembly plants and manufacturing complex. However, the company is now the midst of a concerted effort to move away from coal in favor of renewable energy from wind and solar as well as the methane gas produced from landfills.

Last November, however, GM announced plans to buy power for its 3-million square-foot assembly plant in Arlington, Texas, which builds more than 1,000 SUVs daily, from green power sources in 2018.

At the time, GM announced it had signed a contract to purchase electricity generated by a 150-megawatt wind farm being developed by Renewable Energy Systems at Cactus Flats in Concho County, Texas.

(Click Here for more about GM’s pledge to 100% usage of alternative energy in the U.S.)

General Motors plans to have 100% of its power supplied by renewable resources by 2050.

Even before the deal was signed, the Arlington plant was meeting about half its electricity needs from renewable sources. In 2018, it will be the first of GM’s factories to be totally reliant on renewable energy, GM officials said at the time.

In addition to the Arlington plant, the wind-generated electricity from Concho County will power GM’s Austin IT Innovation Center, a GM financial office in Fort Worth and 13 parts warehouses.

“We will be offsetting the power used by 2,000 homes,” said Rob Threlkeld, GM global manager of renewable energy.

Three other plants get 33 to 50% of their power from renewable sources, Threlkeld said. In addition to the Arlington plant, the wind-generated electricity from Concho County will power GM’s Austin IT Innovation Center, a GM financial office in Fort Worth and 13 parts warehouses.

GM made its first wind purchase in 2014 for several of its operations in Mexico. The company also uses EV batteries in tandem with a solar array to power an office building at its Milford Proving Ground in Michigan and is researching the use of fuel cells as energy storage in the future.

(To see more about Unifor’s strike of GM’s Ingersoll plant in Canada, Click Here.)

GM estimates use of alternative energy saves the company about $5 million annually. Renewable energy use supports a resilient grid while offering more stable energy pricing, GM officials have noted.

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