GM leads automakers - Smart Energy Decisions

Energy Efficiency, Industrial, Industrial, Solar, Sourcing Renewables  -  July 25, 2016

GM makes big strides in onsite renewables with solar, landfill gas

Photo: GM's Lake Orion assembly plant, courtesy of GM.

Leading the way among U.S. automakers, General Motors Co. is making big strides in onsite renewable  generation.  

One of General Motors Co.'s Michigan assembly plants received big recognition July 25 when it was ranked as the eighth largest user of onsite-generated green power in the U.S. among the EPA's Green Power Partnership, or GPP, program. The GPP list is updated quarterly; among the top ten onsite generation partners, GM was the only automaker. 

The assembly plant in Lake Orion, Mich., builds the Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicle, and half of its power come from methane captured from decomposing trash in a nearby landfill, GM said in a news release . The facility is also home to a 350-kW solar array that sends energy back to the grid.

GM says the Orion Assembly plant saves $1 million a year by using renewable energy, and contributes to the automaker's larger goal of using 125 MW of renewable energy by 2020, which it has already said it expects to exceed later in 2016. The company's next renewable energy targets are currently making their way through the corporate approval chain, GM recently told Smart Energy Decisions. 

"Building the Bolt EV in a facility that is 54% powered by clean energy further adds to the car’s environmental credentials,” Alicia Boler-Davis, GM's vice president of global manufacturing said in a statement. "It’s an example of how we live our global sustainable manufacturing commitment while improving our bottom line.”

GM’s Fort Wayne Assembly plant in Indiana, home of the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickup trucks, also appears on the EPA list — ranking seventh — for the second year in a row for its onsite generation of energy from landfill gas.

GM, which has been using landfill gas as a fuel source for nearly 20 years, has also been building up its share of onsite solar generation: its latest array can be found at the Rochester Operations plant in New York. That 466-kW array is expected to power 3% of the facility’s electricity, according to GM's Green Blog post from July 22.  

"We are bullish on renewable energy because it helps us reduce our energy costs while helping to lower our impacts on climate change,” GM Global Renewable Energy Manager Rob Threlkeld said in that post. "We save about $5 million per year from using renewables.”

The GPP, which is a Smart Energy Decisions content partner, launched its "onsite renewables challenge" in support of President Barack Obama's Climate Action Plan, with the goal to double the use of onsite green power by participating corporations by the end of the decade. The full updated list of participating companies can be found on the GPP website

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