Mars Inc. looks to wind to lower its carbon footprint

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Mars, Inc., a McLean-based food manufacturing company, in partnership with Sumitomo Corp. of Americas, has announced an agreement on a new 20-megawatt wind farm near Lamesa, Texas.

It will generate 100 percent of the electricity needs of Mars' U.S. operations, which is comprised of 70 sites, including 37 factories and 25,000 employees. Sumitomo and BNB Renewable Energy jointly developed  Mesquite Creek Wind, a 118-turbine, 25,000-acre wind farm.

With an annual output of more than 800,000 megawatt-hours, the energy created from the wind farm will represent 24 percent of Mars' total global factory and office carbon footprint –or enough electricity to power 61,000 U.S. households.  According to Mars, the wind farm represents the biggest long-term commitment to renewable energy use of any food manufacturing business in the U.S.

Mars said in a press release that the farm is one of the ways the company is achieving its goal to make its operations sustainable in a generation by eliminating greenhouse gas emissions by 2040.

In the shorter term, Mars has committed to reduce fossil fuel energy and greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2015, using 2007 as its baseline year. The Mesquite Creek wind farm will enable Mars to meet this 2015 goal.

BNB, the originating developer of the wind farm, began discussions with Mars and brought Sumitomo Corp. to the joint venture.  Sumitomo and Mars have reached contractual arrangements that allow Mars to receive all the renewable energy certificates from Mesquite Creek, offsetting the energy use for Mars' entire U.S. facilities. 

"We are committed to doing our part to limit climate change. We are therefore delighted to be announcing this major renewable project that takes us a big step towards our goal of becoming carbon neutral in our operations,” Barry Parkin, chief sustainability officer at Mars, said in a statement. “This is an innovative approach that makes great business and environmental sense."

Mesquite Creek represents Sumitomo’s sixth renewable energy investment in the U.S. The company has its headquarters in New York City.

"By making this extraordinary commitment to buy renewable energy, Mars is sending a clear message that companies, private and public, have the power to lead the world on climate change.  It's good for the bottom line, it's good for the environment …,” said Jonathan Butcher, Sr., a founder of BNB.

Development of Mesquite Creek began in 2008 on the site, located in Borden and Dawson Counties, Texas, about eight miles from Lamesa.  Blattner Energy Inc. is constructing the wind farm, and electricity will be generated via 118 1.7-megawatt General Electric turbines. Turbine delivery is scheduled to begin at the end of the summer, with commercial operations expected to begin in the second quarter of 2015. 

BNB Renewable Energy Holdings, with offices in New York City, Boston, Austin, Texas, and Exton Pa, is a developer of both distributed-generation and utility-scale wind, solar, and biogas power plants and has developed and constructed nearly 500 megawatts of renewable generation throughout the United States.

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