GM’s Use of Wind Power Continues to Grow

Company's goal is to use 100% renewable energy by 2050.

by on Mar.13, 2018

General Motors' Orion, Michigan plant is one of several of the company's facilities employing renewable energy.

General Motors continues to expand its use of alternative energy to power up its factories in the U.S and abroad.

In the last move, GM confirmed that its working with Consumers Energy, a utility company based in Jackson, Michigan, moving from what is described as “brown” energy to renewable energy, specifically electricity generated by a new wind farm to power two factories key factories in Flint, Michigan.

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The utility said GM and Switch are the first participants in a new Consumers Energy program to help large businesses use large renewable energy sources. Both companies are now matching 100% of their electric use at key operations in Michigan with wind-generated power.

General Motors’ Flint Metal Center and Flint Engine Operations and the energy used at Switch’s Pyramid Campus, a 1.8 million-square-foot data center campus in Grand Rapids, Michigan, are operating entirely with energy produced by Cross Winds Energy Park II, which is located in Michigan’s Thumb region to the east of Flint.

“Switch and General Motors are leading the way for companies that want to operate efficiently in a competitive environment, yet also make and meet commitments to our planet,” said Garrick Rochow, Consumers Energy’s senior vice president of operations.

GM is aiming to power all of its U.S. facilities with alternative energy sources, such as wind and solar.

“We look forward to providing clean energy that will power Switch, General Motors and other large businesses that choose Michigan to locate and grow,” he added.

(GM buys more electricity from alternative power sources. Click Here for the story.)

GM shut down a coal-fired power plant that it had operated in Flint back in 2008 even before it began moving towards the wider use of alternative energy as a matter of corporate policy.

When construction of a wind farm in Ohio is complete this summer, 100% of the power to all of the company’s manufacturing operations in Ohio and Indiana will be matched with renewable energy, according to GM spokeswoman Carolyn Markey

At that point, renewable energy will power 20% of GM’s global electricity use. An expansion of wind energy also will power the Arlington Assembly plant in Texas with 100% renewable energy starting this fall.

GM use electricity generated with gas from nearby landfill to provide about 50% of the electricity for the Orion Assembly in Orion Township, Michigan, where the Chevy Bolt EV is built and in Fort Wayne, Ind. the company’s big factory for building pick-up trucks co-generates about 20% electricity using landfill gas, she noted in an email.

(Click Here for more about GM’s pledge to 100% usage of alternative energy in the U.S.)

GM plans to have 100% of its power supplied by renewable resources by 2050.

“Corporations have a leadership opportunity to help accelerate and scale renewable energy, making it more accessible and affordable for everyone,” said Dane Parker, General Motors vice president of Sustainable Workplaces.

“The Consumers Energy program will help General Motors meet its commitment to source 100% renewable energy at all global operations by 2050, while reducing emissions in our Michigan communities and making the grid greener.”

Sustainably running the internet has been a bedrock principle of Switch since founder and CEO Rob Roy started the company in 2000. “It was a pleasure to work with Consumers Energy to continue Switch’s commitment to using 100% new, local renewable energy resources to power our data centers,” said Adam Kramer, Switch executive vice president of strategy.

Consumers Energy’s new renewable energy program for large businesses was approved last year by the Michigan Public Service Commission.

Consumers Energy, Michigan’s largest utility, said 10% of the energy it delivers to customers now comes from renewable sources. Consumers Energy also recently announced that more than 40% of the energy it produces will come from renewable sources and energy storage units by 2040.

(To see more about GM powering its Texas plant using wind power, Click Here.)

The energy provider’s new clean energy goals also include reducing carbon emissions by 80% and no longer using coal to generate electricity by 2040.

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5 Responses to “GM’s Use of Wind Power Continues to Grow”

  1. Jerome Barry says:

    I would like to point out that 2050 is 32 years from now. As of 2018, the nuclear physicists are promising grid-connected fusion power within 15 years. 32. 15. Just sayin’.

    • Paul A. Eisenstein says:


      I recall going to summer camp in 1962 and being advised that the new fission plants then coming online would provide “electricity too cheap to meter.” And fusion technology, we were promised, was only a few more years away. Hmmm, 1962 to 2018…56 years. If you are still buying the “15 years away” claim you may wind up as old as I now am and still wonder what happened.

      Paul A. Eisenstein

  2. DrDT says:

    This move is good for the environment and PR. But if you were able to inspect the financials for the deal, you may find that the electricity price is very competitive but also GM can lock-in that attractive price for their electricity for 15 to 20 years unlike conventional electricity contracts that have fuel price volatility. Locking in a long term wind/solar contract provides an attractive cost hedge against future increases in electricity prices. I suspect that this is an attractive supply contract even more than an effort to support their corporate sustainability goals.

  3. R. L. Hails Sr. P. E. (ret.) says:

    My old boss got his MS in fuel cells in 1954. He said that over his entire career, engineering power plants, that he was assured that in 5 years, fuel cells would be the dominant energy technology in the US.

    The last I heard, he died a while back but I could be wrong.

    • Paul A. Eisenstein says:

      Like fusion power, goes the old line, “Fuel cells are the energy source of the future…and always will be.” But at least there are now three hydrogen cars on the market. No one has yet found a way to come close to commercializing fusion.

      Paul E.

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