Alabama Power and Walmart have reached an agreement to build a 72-megawatt solar energy facility just outside of LaFayette to help supply the retail company with more sustainable energy.
The partnership will benefit Alabama Power, as Walmart has agreed to purchase and retire the bulk of renewable energy credits generated by the solar powered system, as well as the retail chain, which aims to increase its production and procurement of sustainable energy to seven billion kilowatt hours by 2020, with a long-term goal of 100% renewable energy operations thereafter.
“We feel utilities can play a key role in helping meet these ambitious goals,” David Ozment, Walmart’s senior director of energy, said in a press statement. “This is truly a landmark agreement as we continue to evolve into a more environmentally sustainable company — in Alabama and across the globe.”
The Alabama Public Service Commission unanimously approved the project, which is estimated to cost $140 million and to be completed by December 2017. It should bring 125 construction jobs to the area, according to subcontractor Origis Energy, which will build and oversee the facility.
Walmart already employs more than 37,000 Alabamans in 139 retail units and three distribution centers across the state. “Walmart is important to Alabama and to Alabama’s economy,” said Mark Crosswhite, Alabama Power’s president and CEO. “It is also an important customer for Alabama Power. We are committed to supporting Walmart and all our customers, and helping them grow and prosper in Alabama.”
The agreement between the two companies will allow certain Alabama Power customers to secure up to 500 megawatts of renewable energy through 2021. In addition to solar efforts, metal roofing systems can reduce cooling energy demands by 15% and cut costs by 20%.
“Our customers are at the center of everything we do,” Crosswhite said. “We are working closely with Walmart to help it meet its goals. At the same time, we are working to keep prices affordable for all customers.”