Six months after announcing its goal to reduce 50% of its absolute carbon emissions by 2025, a Walker-based retailer has made sustainability strides with an investment in wind energy.
Meijer earlier this month shared a new addition to its clean energy portfolio: a wind energy center based in Glasscock and Sterling counties, Texas.
For the project, the retailer signed a renewable product purchase agreement (RPPA) with a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources LLC, of which Meijer will purchase the majority of energy generated by the center. NextEra Energy Resources is the world’s largest generator of renewable energy from the wind and sun and a global leader in battery storage.
Named the Lacy Creek Wind Energy Center, the project will use 108 wind turbines and deliver approximately 800,000 megawatt hours (MWh) of renewable electricity annually.
The center currently is under construction on 60,000 acres and is expected to be completed later this year.
For Meijer, the investment in more wind energy contributes to its overarching sustainability goals.
“We believe we have a responsibility to improve the world around us because it’s the right thing to do,” said Erik Petrovskis, director of environmental compliance and sustainability at Meijer.
The company currently adheres to four pillars as part of its sustainability program: carbon reduction, food waste reduction, support for the circular economy and stewardship of the Great Lakes.
According to Petrovskis, this new wind energy center is a direct result of the company’s carbon reduction goal.
Before implementing the new project, Meijer conducted internal studies to determine some ways to reduce carbon emissions, whether through the use of onsite renewable energy or through off-site RPPA opportunities.
The studies were conducted by a University of Michigan graduate student project, and Meijer also teamed up with global adviser Schneider Electric to identify sites for RPPA efforts to focus on renewable energy.
Petrovskis noted the need for a comprehensive strategy for Meijer to reach its goal by 2025.
“We decided that trying to meet our carbon goals with one-by-one projects, whether it would be solar panels or wind turbines somewhere, just wasn’t going to get us to our goal fast enough,” he said.
The new wind energy center in Texas also complements Meijer’s recent investment in solar energy with North Carolina-based Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions.
The two companies in March signed an agreement for the development of the Pisgah Ridge solar project on 1,800 acres, also in Texas.
Schneider Electric supported Meijer in the selection of and negotiations for the solar project.
“It’s impactful to see that one of the largest Midwest supermarket retailers continues to adopt renewable electricity and decarbonize their operations,” said Steve Wilhite, president of Schneider Electric Sustainability Business.
Both the wind energy center and the solar project are expected to begin producing energy by the end of 2022.
In terms of its other sustainability goals, Petrovskis said Meijer is working to utilize more geothermal systems for refrigeration in its stores.
The retailer implemented systems with lower energy use in two of its newer stores in Brunswick, Ohio, and Fort Wayne, Indiana, last year.
“Rather than blowing hot air off the roof, we do that heat transfer in the subsurface through a closed loop system,” Petrovskis said. “We love trying innovative technologies at our new stores and this is one that has some great potential.”
As Meijer continues to work toward its sustainability goals, Petrovskis credits the teamwork between departments for making these efforts a reality.
“Environmental sustainability is part of our DNA, and it fosters innovation and collaboration and allows us to really make a difference in our communities,” he said.
“Our mission at Meijer is to enrich lives in the communities that we serve, and improving our environment is part of that.”