Committing to Clean Energy

An overwhelming majority of Americans believe that significant investments in clean energy and energy efficiency are critical for our nation’s future. In addition to the clear environmental and public health impacts, taking charge of the emerging clean energy sector could play a tremendous role in spurring economic growth and job creation.

In addition to these benefits, some major corporations have now realized that cleaning up their energy usage is also good for their bottom line.

Walmart began a major sustainability initiative in 2005 that established a wide range of energy initiatives including reducing energy usage at their stores by 30% and doubling the fuel economy for their fleet within ten years. Ultimately, Walmart intends to power their stores using 100% renewable sources. That’s a big challenge for the largest private consumer of electricity in the United States.  

This week, the world’s largest retailer rolled out some concrete steps on their path to 100% renewable electricity. Walmart announced that by the end of 2020, the company would generate or purchase 7 billion kilowatt hours of renewable energy, a 600% increase of their 2010 investment.  Although specifics of the plan were not released, Walmart indicated that they intend to install solar arrays on at least one thousand buildings.

In a statement, President Mike Duke said:

"More than ever, we know that our goal to be supplied 100 per cent by renewable energy is the right goal and that marrying up renewables with energy efficiency is especially powerful. The math adds up pretty quickly - when we use less energy that's less energy we have to buy, and that means less waste and more savings. These new commitments will make us a stronger business, and they're great for our communities and the environment."

Transitioning to renewable energy isn’t just good public policy. It’s also a real bottom line issue for corporations willing and able to seize the opportunity. These investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy production could save Walmart a BILLION dollars per year once the targets are met. 

This investment will not only be great for Walmart, but will also provide a boost to the nascent clean energy sector overall. An investment of this size could help drive prices down and attract more clean energy manufacturing to the United States. It also sends an important signal to other large companies that investing in energy efficiency and renewable energy has a host of financial benefits.

Although Walmart certainly faces its share of scrutiny, they deserve praise for this level of commitment to clean energy.