Anheuser-Busch signs wind farm power deal as part of global renewable energy goal

Source: By Lisa Brown, St. Louis Post-Dispatch • Posted: Thursday, September 14, 2017

Anheuser-Busch InBev has signed a deal to buy power produced by an Oklahoma wind farm as part its global goal to have 100 percent of its purchased electricity come from renewable sources by 2025.

A-B, its U.S. subsidiary based in St. Louis, announced a power purchase agreement with Italian renewable energy company Enel Green Power for a portion of the energy produced at Enel’s Thunder Ranch wind farm located in Garfield, Kay and Noble counties in Oklahoma.

Enel Green Power has been growing its footprint across the U.S. and Canada with corporations, including a recent deal with Google for wind power in Kansas, said Rafael Antonio González Sánchez, CEO of Enel Green Power North America.

The Oklahoma wind farm deal will be the brewer’s first contracted utility-scale project to start operations globally. Earlier this year, the maker of Budweiser and other beers announced plans for a similar deal in Mexico for 490 gigawatt hours annually, but that wind farm deal won’t go into effect until 2019.

The deal is major step forward in reducing carbon emissions that’s an extension of the company’s efforts to reduce water usage and packaging in recent years, A-B president and CEO João Castro Neves, said in a call with reporters Wednesday morning.

Under the deal with Enel Green Power, A-B will purchase energy delivered to the grid and renewable energy credits totaling 152.5 megawatts. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. “We’re looking for ways to be good to the environment and cost-efficient,” Castro Neves said in the call.

The renewable energy produced under A-B’s agreement with Enel Green will be equivalent to powering up to half of A-B’s total purchased electricity in a year. Only 2 percent of A-B’s electricity is from renewable energy sources currently, said Katja Zastrow A-B’s vice president of corporate social responsibility, better world.

“It’s a huge leap toward our commitment of getting to 100 percent purchased electricity from renewable sources by 2025,” Zastrow said. The company said its efforts over the next eight years will help it reduce its carbon footprint by 30 percent.

A-B already uses wind power at its brewery in Fairfield, Calif., where it operates two on-site wind turbines. Combined with solar installations at its St. Louis brewery and other facilities, wind and solar currently generates 7.5 megawatts annually.

To expand its use of renewable energy in a bigger way, the brewer had to look beyond the limits of its own properties, said Angie Slaughter, senior director of raw materials, auxiliaries and utilities for the brewer’s North America zone.

“We don’t have enough real estate around our breweries to physically implement something this big,” Slaughter said.

Solar power will continue to be an area of focus for A-B. “We’ll continue to look into wind and solar … it will definitely be a mix going forward,” Castro Neves said.