General Mills signs 15-year deal for wind energy

By Beth Newhart

- Last updated on GMT

The wind industry is expected to deliver more than $85bn in economic activity by 2020.
The wind industry is expected to deliver more than $85bn in economic activity by 2020.

Related tags Sustainability General mills Wind power Renewable energy Climate change

Food giant General Mills is making a commitment to sustainability and clean power by covering the electricity at its US facilities with renewable wind energy. It has signed a 15-year power purchase agreement with Roaring Fork Wind, LLC.

The deal will include 200 megawatts (MW) of Roaring Fork Wind’s Maverick Creek wind project out of central Texas. These renewable energy credits, coupled with the company's previous wind power agreement, are estimated to account for 100% of the annual electricity use at General Mills’ domestic facilities.

John Church, chief supply chain officer and global business solutions officer at General Mills, said, "General Mills began its milling operations more than 150 years ago with water power from the banks of the Mississippi River.

"By learning from history, and tying back to our clean power roots, the equivalent of our domestic facilities' annual electricity needs will be covered by clean wind power, helping to reach our climate commitment of decreasing our carbon footprint by 28 percent by 2025."

Central Texas is a ‘particularly favorable wind area,’ according to General Mills. It leads the US in wind energy production, with more than 24,899 MW of installed capacity in the state.

General Mills also shared that during the peak of construction for this project, it will create approximately 175 jobs in the clean energy workforce. There are already 102,500 workers employed in all 50 states in the US wind industry.

“That figure continues to rise annually, with the number of people employed by wind expected to top 248,000 by 2020. According to Navigant Consulting, the wind industry is expected to deliver over $85bn in economic activity during the same period,”​ General Mills said.

Setting targets

Roaring Fork Wind is a joint venture partnership between RES (Renewable Energy Systems) and Steelhead Americas, supporting General Mills' greenhouse gas emission reduction goals. The project will likely help the company reach its “target of sustainable emission levels across its global value chain by 2050.”

General Mills said that it already reduced the greenhouse gas emissions of its extended value chain by 13% through 2018, compared to its 2010 baseline. The focus of this project is at its US production facilities, where it produces its famous brands like Häagen-Dazs ice cream and Yoplait yogurt.

Graham Reid, CEO for RES in the Americas, said, “Delivering the Maverick Creek project brings RES closer to fulfilling our vision where everyone has access to affordable zero carbon energy."

Chris Rogers, senior director at Steelhead Americas, said, "We're pleased to be a part of General Mills' commitment to clean power, and proud that Maverick Creek is a fundamental part of that commitment. Our strong partnership with RES ensures projects like Maverick Creek will deliver clean, reliable, low cost wind energy benefits to power America's energy economy.”

General Mills operates a Sustainability Governance Committee that tackles the company’s approach to climate change. It identifies the main risks that could impact its business, including severe weather disrupting the supply chain or specific ingredient shortages, like cocoa in West Africa or almonds in California.

“We have active mitigation plans in place to address and minimize these types of disruptions. Reputational risks could arise from not addressing the emissions in our supply chain. We are doing our part to reach an aggressive GHG emissions reduction target and positively influence the broader value chain,”​ General Mills said.

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