This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

January 18, 2006

Whole Foods Market Buys 100 Percent Wind Power

Whole Foods Market announced on January 10th that it has bought enough wind power to equal all of the electricity it uses. Whole Foods has made the largest purchase of renewable energy credits (RECs) in the United States, buying more than 458 million kilowatt-hours of RECs from wind power facilities. That makes Whole Foods the only Fortune 500 company to offset 100 percent of its electricity use with RECs. RECs represent the environmental attributes of renewable power and are a convenient way for individuals and businesses to support renewable energy, particularly when their local utility does not offer renewable power through a green power program. For national companies, RECs represent a way to buy renewable power without having to negotiate with hundreds of local utilities. Wind power plants can sell RECs throughout the country and then sell the electricity they produce as a commodity. See the Whole Foods Market press release.

FedEx Kinko's, a long-time buyer of green power, has also upped its renewable power purchases to 40 million kilowatt-hours per year, an increase of more than two-thirds over its previous purchases. The company now buys enough renewable power to meet 14 percent of its annual electricity needs. See the FedEx Kinko's press release.

Throughout much of the country, renewable power is now available to customers of local utilities, typically by paying the utility a small premium. In some areas, though, recent price hikes for natural gas have pushed the price of "normal" electricity above the green power price. Austin Energy in Texas is now facing that situation, and since this makes its green power program rather popular, it plans to hold a drawing in March to see which customers will be allowed to sign up. See the Austin Energy press release, and for more information about green power, see DOE's Green Power Network Web site.