Gen­eral Mo­tors to use wind power to build pick­ups, SUVs

USA TODAY International Edition - - MONEY - Jamie L. LaReau

Gen­eral Mo­tors’ largest gaso­lineb­urn­ing ve­hi­cles – pick­ups and full­size SUVs – will soon be built, iron­i­cally, at plants pow­ered by wind, not fuel. GM wants to power all its global fa­cil­i­ties with 100 per­cent re­new­able en­ergy by 2050. GM will reach 20 per­cent of that goal by year-end, the au­tomaker said Mon­day. “We do want to be known as a green com­pany; that’s one of the key rea­sons we’re do­ing this, as well as for price sta­bil­ity,” Rob Threlkeld, GM’s global man­ager of re­new­able en­ergy told the Free Press. “You don’t get the price spikes this way, like you do with fuel, and it re­duces the en­vi­ron­ment foot­print of the ve­hi­cle you’re driv­ing.” GM, ranked 76 out of 100 of the largest green power users by the U.S. En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency, has part­nered with CMS En­ter­prises, the un­reg­u­lated en­tity of Con­sumers En­ergy, to match elec­tric­ity needs from the wind farms that en­tity owns. GM’s decades­long ap­proach to sourc­ing re­new­able en­ergy has re­sulted in “mil­lions of dol­lars in sav­ings” for the au­tomaker, Threlkeld said. GM’s lat­est ef­forts tar­get wind farms in Ohio, Illi­nois and Texas. Cac­tus Flats Wind Farm in Texas went into op­er­a­tion Tues­day. The 148-megawatt fa­cil­ity will power GM’s as­sem­bly plant in Ar­ling­ton, Texas. North­west Ohio Wind Farm went into op­er­a­tion Oct. 1, gen­er­at­ing 100 megawatts of power to meet the de­mand of GM’s man­u­fac­tur­ing op­er­a­tions in Ohio and In­di­ana. In De­cem­ber, Hil­lTop­per Wind Farm in Illi­nois will come on­line to gen­er­ate an­other 100 megawatts of power for op­er­a­tions in Ohio and In­di­ana. “Ohio and Texas are dereg­u­lated mar­kets, so you can buy elec­tric­ity from any re­source there,” Threlkeld said. “Wind and so­lar are the low­est cost re­source. We’re buy­ing into long-term con­tracts that have no fuel com­po­nents, so we can put price sta­bil­ity in the cost to build these ve­hi­cles.” Threlkeld said a typ­i­cal as­sem­bly plant re­quires 120 mil­lion to 220 mil­lion kilo­watt hours of en­ergy to op­er­ate each year. To put that in per­spec­tive, a typ­i­cal U.S. house­hold uses 10,000 kilo­watt hours of en­ergy a year.

BILLY BROWN

Cac­tus Flats Wind Farm will pro­vide the en­ergy needed at GM fa­cil­i­ties in Texas, in­clud­ing its Ar­ling­ton As­sem­bly, where it builds full-size SUVs.

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