We are so excited to announce that we have just finalized the largest purchase of renewable energy credits (RECs) ever made by a U.S. retailer. Woo hoo! Whole Foods Market purchased 776 million-kilowatt-hours of RECs from wind farms, which equals 100% of our company's electricity use in all of our North American locations. And that's not all! Nearly 90% of this year's purchase is specifically helping fund E.ON Climate & Renewables' (EC&R) Texas-based Panther Creek wind farm. Our investment is going to help bring new power to the grid.Panther Creek began operating its first phase in 2008 and its final phase of construction was recently completed. Our purchase of RECs has provided valuable additional financing to the project. EC&R is developing a number of large scale wind projects in the U.S. over the coming years and extra funding from REC sales will play a crucial role in their growth.So, what does our 776 million-kilowatt-hours purchase mean to the environment? It will help avoid creating up to 868 million pounds of carbon dioxide pollution - which is comparable to taking more than 72,000 cars off of the roads for a year, or planting nearly 3.6 million mature trees. Not too shabby.
Of course, if you've been following along, you know this isn't our first or only green effort. We've been a proponent of offsetting since 2006 - that's when we became the first Fortune 500 Company to offset 100% of electricity use with RECs. Thanks goes to our partner, Boulder, Colo.-based Renewable Choice Energy, who has helped make this happen. Our continued purchase of RECs is part of our comprehensive energy commitment, which also includes plans to more than triple the number of stores with solar panels and to invest in energy-reduction opportunities while retrofitting existing stores with energy-efficient lighting, equipment and mechanical components.You can read more about our green efforts.