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Wind energy to provide all electricity for General Motors plants in Indiana, Ohio

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General Motors are to power all their manufacturing facilities in Indiana and Ohio – where they build the Chevrolet Cruze small car and the Silverado and GMC Sierra pickup trucks – with 100 percent wind energy.

The American multinational auto and truck manufacturer is buying 200 megawatts of electricity from wind farms in the two states.

wind energy GMThe wind energy deals are another step toward GM’s goal to have all the electricity they use worldwide to be sourced from renewables by 2050. Image: GM

The decision means that, from the end of 2018, when all the turbines will be online, around 20 percent of GM’s global electricity needs will be met by renewable energy.

GM say that, as they work “toward advancing zero emissions vehicles, it makes business sense to create a cleaner grid on which to drive them.”

100 percent renewable energy by 2050

The new deals are another step toward GM’s long-term goal to have all the electricity used in their 350 operations in 59 countries sourced from renewables – such as wind, solar, and landfill gas – by 2050.

The auto maker is also branching out into energy storage as part of its clean energy strategy.

For instance, it uses electric vehicle (EV) batteries coupled with a solar array to provide electricity to an office building at its Milford Proving Ground in Michigan. And it is also researching use of fuel cells for future initiatives.

In September 2016, GM joined RE100, a group of more than 100 influential businesses that are committed to 100 percent renewable electricity.

In congratulating GM on the new wind power deals, Helen Clarkson, CEO of The Climate Group, one of the partners driving the RE100 alliance, comments:

“GM vocally champions the compelling business case for renewables and shares learnings with other companies. It shows other companies what’s possible.”

“With a pragmatic strategy, companies can turn ambitious renewable energy goals into action and scale quickly,” adds Rob Threlkeld, GM global manager of renewable energy.

Wind to power total of seven plants

The new wind energy deals should provide enough electricity to power GM’s three plants in Indiana (Fort Wayne Assembly, Marion Metal Center, and Bedford Casting), and four in Ohio (Lordstown Assembly, Defiance Casting Operations, Parma Metal Center, and Toledo Transmission).

GM negotiated the contracts with support from Altenex, an Edison Energy Company and independent renewable energy advisor.

The deals mean that GM will be the only users of electricity generated at Northwest Ohio Wind farm, a 100 MW facility owned by Starwood Energy Group. The 100 MW of wind energy in Illinois will come from Swift Current Energy’s HillTopper Wind Project in Logan County.

GM’s first step into using wind energy started in 2014, when they signed deals to supply several of their plants in Mexico. Shortly after this, they signed up Texas wind farms to supply 30 to 50 MW of electrical energy.

The auto manufacturer already uses solar power at 26 sites and uses electricity made from landfill gas at two assembly plants.

GM say that they have been using renewable energy “for decades,” and that this saves them about $5 million a year.