Distributed Energy Resources

Wells Fargo, Walmart enter renewable energy deals

Wells Fargo and Walmart recently announced agreements for the purchase of renewable energy supplies.

Wells Fargo on Oct. 17 unveiled a 10-year structured renewable energy agreement with Reliant, an NRG Energy company.

The new agreement is the bank’s largest contract to date in support of its corporate strategy to advance the development of new sources of renewable energy in order to meet its electricity needs, it said.

The deal will provide approximately 62,000 megawatt-hours of solar energy annually to approximately 400 Wells Fargo properties from a new utility-scale solar facility in Texas. The NRG Renewable Selectsm plan will provide 100% of the bank’s total annual requirements in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) region and 3% of the company’s national load. The Texas facility is expected to break ground in 2020 and begin delivering clean energy to the grid in 2021.

The NRG agreement is the first significant transaction under Wells Fargo’s strategy to contract with providers of renewable energy resources geographically close to its load centers.

Wells Fargo is pursuing similar agreements across the U.S. as part of its long-term energy strategy.

As part of its 2020 renewable energy goal, Wells Fargo also will expand its on-site renewables portfolio by installing solar technologies on more than 100 corporate, branch, and data facilities across the U.S. The company currently maintains solar arrays on 16 properties in addition to a number of ATMs.


Meanwhile, ENGIE US Wind announced on Oct. 22 said that it was continuing to service Walmart’s renewable energy needs via an agreement that utilizes two virtual renewable power purchase agreements (VPPAs) to enable building more than 366 MW of wind projects in different U.S. energy markets, all under a single procurement process.

This process was important to Walmart as it continues to make progress towards its goal of powering 50 percent of its operations with renewable energy by the end of 2025, ENGIE said.

Walmart is purchasing 166 MW from ENGIE’s Prairie Hill project in Texas and 200 MW from ENGIE’s King Plains project in Oklahoma, with construction on both sites underway. The energy produced annually matches to portions of electricity load in Walmart stores, Sam’s Clubs, and distribution centers throughout parts of the ERCOT and Southwest Power Pool markets.

The deal complements Walmart’s existing VPPA with ENGIE for 150 MW at the Triple H wind project in South Dakota, where construction is also underway.

Combined with the existing Triple H deal, the new Prairie Hill and King Plains deals bring Walmart and ENGIE’s collaboration to more than 500 MW of wind power in the U.S. market.

Triple H, Prairie Hill and King Plains are part of the portfolio acquired in early 2018 by a subsidiary of ENGIE North America.

ENGIE and Microsoft sign 230-MW renewable PPA

In September, Microsoft and ENGIE it was announced that the two parties had signed a long-term solar and wind PPA that is structured to provide around-the-clock energy.

The deal calls for Microsoft to buy 230 MW from two ENGIE projects in Texas. The computer software company will buy the majority of the output from the 200-MW Las Lomas wind farm in Starr and Zapata counties and 85 MW from the 200-MW Anson Solar Center, which is being built in Jones County. ENGIE also will operate both projects, which are expected to come on-line in January 2021.

The PPA includes a volume firming agreement (VFA) that converts the intermittent renewable energy supply into a fixed 24-by-7 power solution aligned with Microsoft’s energy needs.

The VFA is a contract that augments a PPA by mitigating the risk to the buyer. It is intended to address the fact that a renewable energy PPA exposes the buyer to weather-related risks of producing power from the wind and the sun. The problem is that the power needs of buyers are static but renewable energy output varies day-to-day and hour-to-hour.

In addition, when a wind or solar project has greater than average output, the market value of the energy is often low, but when output is less than average, the market price is often high. That output variability and price volatility make buying renewable energy hard for smaller companies to justify signing renewable energy PPAs. But insurance companies are comfortable taking weather related risk.