Paper products giant Kimberly-Clark this month announced that it would purchase about one-third of its North American electricity needs from two wind farm projects being developed in Texas and Oklahoma. The agreements call for Kimberly-Clark to take 120MW, or 78% of the electricity generated by the Rock Falls development in Northern Oklahoma and 125MW, or 42%, of that generated by the Santa Rita wind farm in West Texas.
This is just the latest in a series of agreements between large corporations and wind farms. The day before Kimberly-Clark announced its deal, Anheuser-Busch said it would acquire 152.5MW from the Oklahoma Thunder Ranch wind farm project, now under construction. That represents a bit more than half the project’s output. Earlier this year, Proctor & Gamble struck an agreement with the owner of a 123MW wind farm near Dallas to purchase 80% of output.
Last year, Johnson & Johnson, General Motors and 3M joined earlier adapters Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook in signing up for major wind-supplied electricity contracts.
This corporate absorption of wind power is critical to the industry. Corporations are creating a new customer base for wind energy providers. According to the American Wind Energy Association, last year almost 40% of the wind project purchase power agreements were signed with corporations and non-utilities. In addition, IKEA in 2014 bought a 165MW wind farm in Illinois.
“We see that corporate buyers find wind to be a stable, reliable energy source,” said Hannah Hunt, AWEA’s senior analyst for industry data and analysis.
The first corporate buyers of wind energy tended to be tech companies looking to power data centers. However, as evidenced by Kimberly-Clark and Anheuser-Busch, “over the past year or so, the mix of companies investing in wind has increasingly diversified,” Hunt added…
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