Walmart Energy Director Says Cost Drives Commitment to Renewable Energy


Walmart Director of Energy David Ozment told an advanced energy webinar crowd of more than 1,000 on Thursday that the distributed generation “pony has left the barn.”

“We advise utilities around the country that you are going to have to re-invent yourself,” Ozment said.  “Cost is the key driver in our decisions on renewable energy and today we have completed the most on-site solar projects by a commercial customer in the U.S.”

Ozment spoke along with Brian Janous, Director of Energy Strategy, Microsoft, during a one-hour webinar presented by Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) on Thursday.  The webinar was billed as: “Not Taking ‘No’ For An Answer: How Microsoft and Walmart Overcame Barriers and Got the Renewable Energy They Wanted.”

Walmart is on a path to being supplied by 100% renewable energy, Ozment said.  Through a combination of energy efficiency, renewable energy generated on site and renewable energy purchased from the grid, the company plans to eliminate any consumption of “brown power.”

Ozment said the company’s entire solar energy on-site generation is placed in 14 states including Puerto Rico.  He said Power Purchase Agreements are the company’s best financing tool but less than half the 50 states allow non-utility PPAs.  “Some states policies regarding non-utility PPAs date back to the 1920s,” he said.

Ozment said the company views net metering rules as an “enabler” to on-site generation.

“We have to read each state’s net metering rules very carefully because a bad net metering rule can be very costly for the customer,” Ozment said.  “We’re not really interested in exporting energy but the net metering rules allow us to better manage our peak demand periods.”

Ozment said that Walmart pays close attention to a state’s policies regarding renewable energy when determining where to position its distribution centers, which consume more energy than its retail stores.

Here are other company statistics that Ozment presented during the webinar:

  • Walmart’s company-wide, on-site solar generation totals more than 100MW and supply from 10% to 25% of a store’s energy demand;
  • The company currently has one on-site wind turbine but is building two large scale wind projects in Texas (Logan’s Gap and Akuo Rock Springs);
  • The company has now installed 44 Bloom Fuel Cells, mostly in California, that provide from 40% to 60% of a store’s electricy.  The majority are financed with PPAs;
  • Walmart is currently working with Tesla to test 200KW energy storage batteries that will further enhance its on-site solar generation.

The webinar, “Not Taking ‘No’ For An Answer: How Microsoft and Walmart Overcame Barriers and Got the Renewable Energy They Wanted”, can be viewed in it’s entirety here.