Steelcase Inc. Becomes First Renewable Energy Credit Buyer to Sponsor Commercial-Scale Wind Farm
Office Furniture Company Defines New Role in Wind Industry, Makes Long-Term Commitment to Facility to be Named ‘Wege Wind Energy Farm, provided by Steelcase’
March 18, 2008 – Grand Rapids, Mich. – Steelcase Inc. (NYSE: SCS), the global leader in the office furniture industry, has announced a long-term financial commitment to a U.S. wind farm, including the purchase of all the green power produced by the farm for at least the first five years of its operation. This is the first time a corporation has made an up-front commitment to purchase all of the renewable energy credits (RECs) from a U.S. wind farm in the financing stage. Renewable Choice Energy, the award-winning renewable energy and carbon offset provider, led the ground-breaking transaction and serves as the exclusive marketer for the project.
The 10 megawatt wind farm, developed by a local landowner and John Deere Renewables, the wind-energy development unit of Deere & Co. (NYSE: DE), will begin operations on or about May 1, 2008. Located in Panhandle, Texas, the eight turbine wind farm is expected to generate 35,000 megawatt hours of electricity each year — enough to power 2,925 homes. According to information provided by the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency, this is equivalent to eliminating 61,639,900 pounds of carbon dioxide, a major contributor to global warming.
Steelcase’s purchase represents a significant milestone in the wind power industry. Installed wind power capacity in the United States increased by 45% in 2007, according to the American Wind Energy Association. Despite this growth, the percentage of wind power in the energy mix remains low, approximately 2% of the nation’s supply, while most experts agree wind power could safely and effectively satisfy more than 20% of the U.S.’s electricity needs. Steelcase’s ground-breaking support of this project demonstrates a potent new way for companies to accelerate the growth of renewables and bring more renewable energy online in the months and years ahead.
The power expected to be generated by the wind farm on an annual basis also represents approximately 20% of the power Steelcase facilities require in the U.S., and equals more than three times the energy necessary to fully power the Steelcase global headquarters building in Grand Rapids, Michigan for a year. With this commitment, Steelcase becomes the largest purchaser of U.S. wind power credits in the office furniture industry. It also joins the Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Leadership Club.
“By making an early and long-term commitment to this project, Steelcase has pioneered a new way to reduce our nation’s reliance on fossil fuels,” said Ted Rose, vice president of business development for Renewable Choice Energy. “It demonstrates how companies can leverage their environmental commitments to affect a massive change by directly participating in the realization of one project.”
The wind farm will be named the “Wege Wind Energy Farm, provided by Steelcase” in honor of Peter Wege, a Michigan environmentalist, Steelcase founding family member and former board member.
“Nearly a hundred years ago we made the promise to act as stewards of the environment. And we are constantly seeking more effective ways to conserve resources, prevent pollution and nurture environmental consciousness in our people every day.” said Nancy Hickey, senior vice president and chief administrative officer, Steelcase Inc. “Our commitment to the Wege Wind Energy Farm is a complement to our on-going efforts to reduce our own energy consumption, with the goal of reducing our carbon footprint by 25% by 2012. Steelcase is proud to make the project a reality in what we hope will inspire more companies to invest in green power both nationally and internationally.”
Purchasing RECs is currently one of the few ways for companies to support renewable energy development. Under Renewable Choice’s “New Growth Wind” model, companies can make a long-term pledge in the financing stage of projects and increase the impact of their action. These commitments reduce risks for project developers, shorten development cycles for new wind farms, and help bring more clean power online faster. In this case, Steelcase and Renewable Choice each made a long-term commitment during the wind farm’s financing stage to the project developer, John Deere Renewables.
“We’re pleased to help pioneer this new model, which provides more financial stability and greater incentives for project development by getting long-term REC purchase commitments in place during the financing stage,” said Dave Drescher, vice president of John Deere Renewables. “We’re confident that transactions like this will help develop smaller scale wind projects, supporting rural communities and getting more clean wind energy onto the grid faster.”
“EPA applauds our corporate partners for protecting our environment by purchasing green power,” said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. “By voluntarily shifting to renewable energy, Steelcase is proving you don’t need to wait for a signal in order to go green.”
About Steelcase Inc.
Steelcase, the global leader in the office furniture industry, helps people have a better work experience by providing products, services and insights into the ways people work. The company designs and manufactures architecture, furniture and technology products. Founded in 1912 and headquartered in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Steelcase (NYSE:SCS) serves customers through a network of over 600 independent dealers and approximately 13,000 employees worldwide. Fiscal 2007 revenue was $3.1 billion.
About Renewable Choice Energy
Boulder, Colo.-based Renewable Choice Energy (www.renewablechoice.com) is the award-winning, full-service provider of renewable energy and carbon offsets. Founded in 2001, Renewable Choice’s clients include Whole Foods Market, Vail Resorts, hundreds of businesses and organizations, and thousands of individuals across the country. In 2006, Renewable Choice shared the Beacon Prize with Whole Foods Market for their campaign to educate customers about wind power. Renewable Choice is the leading renewable energy supplier to green building projects nationwide.
About John Deere Renewables, LLC and John Deere Wind Energy
John Deere Renewables, LLC is a financial services business of Deere & Company (NYSE: DE). Deere & Co. is a Fortune 100 company, has more than 50,000 employees worldwide and more than 170 years in the agricultural market. Through John Deere Wind Energy, John Deere Renewables is committed to the economic growth and sustainability of agricultural communities. With this strong rural heritage and financial strength, the company provides long-term debt and equity investment, comprehensive project development services, wind turbine supply and operations management for wind energy projects in the U.S. and Canada. John Deere Wind Energy currently has more than 27 wind farms in operation or under construction in six states. For more information please visit www.JohnDeere.com/WindEnergy.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Still photography of Wege Wind Energy Farm as well as explanations and a diagram about how Renewable Energy Credits work available upon request.
Renewable Choice Energy
John Deere Renewables
Ph: 515 267-4833