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Nestlé stirring up wind energy in California

By:

March 1, 2013

CABAZON, CALIF. -- Nestlé Waters North America Inc. has installed two wind turbines at its bottling plant in Cabazon that will power 30 percent of the facility.

When running at full capacity, the turbines can generate 1.6 megawatts of energy each and will produce about 12.9 million kilowatt-hours annually.

The turbines, which have been in operation for about two months, are Nestlé's first wind-energy project and a jump-start on the company's plan to move to completely renewable energy resources, said Larry Lawrence, Nestlé's regional natural resource manager.

"[Nestlé] has a deep-seated belief that moving to sustainable power is the way to go. This has been an opportunity for us to do that," he said by phone. "We have a commitment to get to 100 percent renewable energy. In Cabazon, we're 30 percent there."

Nestlé has a power purchase agreement with Foundation Wind­­power LLC for the turbines. Foundation, in Menlo Park, Calif., owns and operates the turbines and the power they produce. Nestlé purchases that power directly, the same way they would purchase power from a traditional energy firm, Lawrence said.

Nestlé also partnered with the Morongo Band of Mission Indians on the project, as the plant is located on tribal land.

Nestlé installed the turbines at its Cabazon plant, located in California's San Gorgonio Pass, because of the area's high wind potential.

And as energy is hard to come by in Southern California, installing a renewable energy source has some additional benefits, Lawrence said.

In times of high energy usage, the area can experience rolling blackouts or brownouts. If the community is losing power because of the Nestlé plant, "that's a horrible thing," he said.

"Being able to take 3.2 mega­watts of power off the grid is a huge win for the entire community," he added. "It's well over a thousand homes that can be powered completely by the power we're taking off the grid."

The company is looking at renewable energy projects at its other plants, though wind power doesn't make sense in all locations, Lawrence said.

Nestlé, based in Stamford, Conn., has 29 bottling facilities in North America. The roughly 760,000-square-foot Cabazon plant has eight bottling lines and both manufactures and fills bottles for the company's Pure Life and Arrowhead bottled waters.