General Motors to achieve 60% renewable energy thanks to massive Arkansas solar deal


General Motors has made a significant step towards achieving its goal of sourcing 100% of its energy from renewables by 2040, with the announcement that the company has signed a power purchase agreement (PPA) for a 180 MW solar project set to be constructed in Arkansas.

Once the installation is completed in 2023, the capacity will lift GM to over 60% renewable energy usage. The deal is also significant for putting GM over 1 GW in renewable energy use. GM is the 11th largest offtaker of renewable power in the U.S., and the largest offtaker in the manufacturing sector.

While project details like the specific location, developer and terms of the PPA are sparse at the moment, GM has shared that the project will use First Solar modules.

The electricity generated by this installation will supply three GM sites in the Midwest. The Wentzville Assembly facility in Missouri and Michigan’s Lansing Delta Township Assembly facility will be fully powered by solar energy, with the remaining power being allocated to the Lansing Grand River Assembly facility.

The installation also marks a significant capacity increase for the state of Arkansas, which has lagged in solar development to date, with just under 240 MW in installed capacity, good for 33rd in the nation. The state has recently seen a slight uptick in development interest, with a 132 MW solar  project in White County recently being approved by local regulators. That project, which has been dubbed ‘Happy Solar’ and will be the largest in the state until the completion of this GM installation, is set to be financed, built, owned and operated by Lightsource BP, with Lightsource selling the electricity generated to Conway Corp under a fixed-rate PPA.

Conway Corp runs the municipal electric, water, wastewater, cable TV, internet, TV and home security utility services for the people of Conway, Arkansas.

In other GM news

The news of this solar project comes just a day after it was reported that the $2 billion deal between GM and Nikola, a battery and fuel cell startup, was not expected to finalize as scheduled. The cause for this deal’s delay and potential demise revolves around the fraud and sexual abuse allegations brought up against Nikola’s founder and former executive chairman, Trevor Milton.

The deal, which had been lauded as a “no lose” for GM was derailed after Hindenburg Research released a report accusing Milton of making false statements about the company’s technology to attract investors and partnerships with other automakers, a report which has, in conjunction with Milton’s resignation, caught the attention of the Securities and Exchange Commission and Department of Justice.

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