Walmart: We are Going Renewable. Utilities Adapt or Die.
April 30, 2013
I recently noted that the Wall Street Journal now reports emerging solar energy technology is a “mortal threat” to utilities who do not change their way of doing business.
Wall Mart underlines the reality. Your biggest customers will soon be self generating. Adapt or die.
We are at the beginning of a utility death spiral for those that do not read the writing on the wall. As big customers begin to self generate and cut back on power purchases, more and more of the rate burden will fall on remaining, mostly smaller, customers. Rates will have to rise, pushing even more customers off the grid. Do the Math. Draw the curve.
This is a big deal.
To every environmentalist who ever bad-mouthed Walmart for its big-box blandness and gigantic impervious parking lots, here’s some news:
The retail behemoth is throwing its full economic muscle behind energy sustainability. Local utilities that don’t get on board with Walmart’s green energy programs could be left behind like an old, worn-out shopping center.
The company’s new energy policy, announced this week at its Global Sustainability Milestone Meeting, calls for Walmart to produce or procure 7 billion kilowatt-hours of renewable energy globally by the end of the decade, a 600 percent increase over 2010 levels.
At the same time, the retailer will make deep cuts to its energy consumption by shaving 20 percent from 2010 levels the amount of electricity required to power a square foot of a Walmart store or warehouse.
The new commitments put much sharper teeth into Walmart’s existing clean energy program, which calls for the retailer to become 100 percent powered by renewable energy by midcentury. But that goal was considered more aspirational than real, given the company’s expansive geographic footprint — 10,500 stores in 27 countries — and the complexity of electricity markets across the many regions and states where Walmart operates.
In a statement, Mike Duke, Walmart’s president and chief executive officer, made clear that the retailer was doubling down on its energy commitments and that it intends to make good on those promises much faster than originally anticipated.
“More than ever, we know that our goal to be supplied 100 percent by renewable energy is the right goal and that marrying up renewables with energy efficiency is especially powerful,” Duke said. “The math adds up pretty quickly — when we use less energy, that’s less energy we have to buy, and that means less waste and more savings. These new commitments will make us a stronger business, and they’re great for our communities and the environment.”