This is big! From USA Today, news that uber-chic grocery chain Whole Foods will announce tomorrow that it “plans to become the largest buyer of wind energy credits in North America by purchasing credits equal to 100% of its projected energy use for 2006.”
That will make Whole Foods the only Fortune 500 company to purchase renewable energy credits — which subsidize the production of energy from renewable sources such as wind — to offset 100% of its electricity use, says the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says.
“In the corporate world, this is huge,” says Kurt Johnson, head of the EPA’s Green Power Partnership. “When a market leader does something like this, others will emulate.”
Like most businesses, Whole Foods can’t get its power directly from renewable energy sources. Instead, it is contracting to purchase 458,000 megawatt-hours of the renewable energy credits. …
Whole Foods’ purchase equals 458 million kilowatt hours, and it gets no tax advantage for it.
The move comes at a time when more Fortune 500 companies are trying to project a “greener” image, including General Electric, whose CEO Jeffrey Immelt recently pledged to decrease pollution and double R&D spending on cleaner technologies.
Whole Foods isn’t doing this altruistically. Most grocery stores are massive users of energy. As the 180-store chain grows, Whole Foods is increasingly being asked by its environmentally minded customers and employees what it is doing to limit energy waste, says Michael Besancon, the regional president overseeing the chain’s green efforts.
“We’re looking to show our customers and team members that we walk our talk,” says Besancon.
I’ve thrown out critical comments here and there about Whole Foods, but this is really impressive. What’s even cooler is that WF will buy the credits from Renewable Choice, a company that the Sustainable Blogosphere’s Shea Gunther helped start several years ago. Needless to say, Shea’s pretty excited (as he should be — and, that’s his photograph in the news story — yeah, the same one I lifted above…). Congrats to Shea, Renewable Choice and Whole Foods. Let’s hope this set a trend in corporate America.