NRG Energy Inc. has announced that purpose-built footwear company Red Wing Shoe Co. has subscribed to two community solar farms in Minnesota’s Olmstead and Dodge counties.
NRG says it is building the projects under the Xcel Energy Solar Rewards Community Program established in Minnesota in December 2014 through the same law that requires Xcel to source 1.5% of its electricity sales in the state from solar energy by 2020. The solar farms will deliver electricity into the local grid, and as a subscriber of 40% (the maximum permitted) of the projects’ 6 MW combined capacity, Red Wing will receive its share of electricity credits from Xcel on its utility bills.
The 25-year agreement, signed in December 2016, will subscribe Red Wing to roughly 4 million annual kilowatt-hourse, approximately one-quarter of the company’s electricity consumption in Minnesota for its plants, warehouses, headquarters and other facilities. The anticipated bill credits associated with the community solar subscriptions will result in significant, long-term cost savings for the company, according to NRG.
“This partnership makes sense on numerous levels, and we’re pleased to be working with a company leading the clean energy movement,” says Mark Urdahl, CEO of Red Wing. “It is the right thing to do for our planet and future generations, and it sets a positive example for our employees, customers and other stakeholders. What’s more, it provides more predictability and control in our energy prices without interrupting our business operations.”
The investment in renewable energy is part of Red Wing’s ongoing, but increasing, commitment to environmental sustainability. The business not only locally sources its products, but also minimizes waste and relies on non-ozone-depleting materials (for example, using an eco-friendly polyurethane alternative) as much as possible. Other recent efforts include changing much of the lighting in its production environments to energy-saving LEDs and renewing its sponsorship of the American Hiking Society to advance the enjoyment and preservation of U.S. outdoor trails.
“Across Minnesota, we are hearing the same strong message from businesses and residents alike: They want to be powered by affordable, renewable energy,” says Drew Warshaw, NRG’s vice president of community solar. “Community solar gives them that opportunity without having to put panels on their roofs. We are excited to have Red Wing as a long-term partner and to join forces with a company that stands for hard work, innovation and sustainability.”
NRG says the Red Wing solar farms are two of many community solar projects the energy company is constructing in Minnesota and across the U.S. with both businesses and residential subscribers. Other Minnesota-based businesses that NRG is partnering with include U.S. Bank, Land O’ Lakes and Ecolab.