According to a recent announcement, GM will buy energy generated by a new Starwood Energy Group wind farm project to be located mostly in Paulding County. Pictured here are wind turbines from the Amazon Wind Farm in the county. Melinda Krick/Paulding County Progress
From Staff Reports

General Motors will buy all of the clean energy generated by the Northwest Ohio Wind project, a 100 megawatt (MW) project owned by Starwood Energy Group that is located across about 12,750 acres of land in Van Wert and Paulding counties. The project is scheduled to be completed in 2018.

Starwood Energy Group Global LLC and General Motors both announced the signing of a long-term renewable energy power purchase agreement last week.

GM said all of its Ohio and Indiana manufacturing facilities will meet their electricity needs through 100 percent renewable energy. GM is buying a total of 200 megawatts of wind energy from Ohio and Illinois wind farms.

Once the turbines come online by the end of 2018, renewable energy will power 20 percent of GM’s global electricity use.

The new wind deals are enough to meet the electricity needs of Fort Wayne Assembly, Marion Metal Center and Bedford Casting plants in Indiana and Lordstown Assembly, Defiance Casting Operations, Parma Metal Center and Toledo Transmission plants in Ohio.

GM will be the sole user of the Northwest Ohio Wind farm, a 100 MW project owned by Starwood Energy Group. Swift Current Energy will provide 100 MW from its HillTopper Wind Project in Logan County, Ill.

This new project will add about 40 new wind turbines to Latty and Blue Creek townships in southern Paulding County with a cost near $200 million.

The wind farm was first proposed as a project by local landowners in 2008. A local public hearing on the project was held at Wayne Trace High School on Oct. 22, 2013.

The county currently has 140 wind turbines in operation. The last wind farm project completed was the 100 MW Amazon Wind Farm U.S. Central for Amazon.com.

“Fortune 100 companies such as General Motors have become a key force supporting renewable energy,” said Himanshu Saxena, senior managing director and co-head of Starwood Energy Group. “We are pleased to enter into this partnership with General Motors to help meet their sustainability objectives.”

“Starwood’s Northwest Ohio Wind project is helping us toward our goal of meeting the electricity needs of our global operations with 100 percent renewable energy,” said Rob Threlkeld, GM global manager of renewable energy. “The wind farm is ideally located to help meet the electricity needs of our Ohio manufacturing facilities.”

Altenex, an Edison Energy Company and independent renewable energy advisor, supported GM in the negotiation of the power purchase contracts.

Local landowners joined together and started the project in 2008. The landowners and National Wind formed Northwest Ohio Wind Energy LLC. Northwest Wind formerly had an office open in Grover Hill to coordinate land leases for the project.

Until January 2012, Northwest Ohio Wind Energy was owned in the majority by local landowners and investors. National Wind served as the managing member and a minority owner of the project. The project and its assets were subsequently transferred to Trishe Wind Ohio and the entity was sold to affiliates of Starwood in October 2014.

“Technology is driving solutions for mobility and safety in our vehicles, as well as the new energy solutions that build them,” said Gerald Johnson, GMNA vice president of Manufacturing and Labor. “This is the way we do business: offering vehicles that serve our customers’ lifestyle needs while providing sustainable solutions that improve our communities.”

GM is leveraging energy efficiency and a mix of onsite and offsite renewable energy solutions to reach its 100 percent renewable energy goal. The company’s four-part strategy acknowledges how its energy and product strategies intersect. As GM works toward advancing zero emissions vehicles, it makes business sense to create a cleaner grid on which to drive them. The company uses EV batteries in tandem with a solar array to power an office building at its Milford Proving Ground in Michigan and is researching the use of fuel cells as energy storage in the future.

“We’re helping provide solutions to green the grid through these new renewable energy deals and sharing best practices with other companies so they too can reduce risk and energy costs,” said Threlkeld. “With a pragmatic strategy, companies can turn ambitious renewable energy goals into action and scale quickly.”

GM has used renewable energy for decades, saving about $5 million annually as a result. Renewable energy use supports a resilient grid while offering more stable energy pricing. GM made its first wind purchase in 2014 for several of its Mexico operations, followed by deals supporting Texas wind farms for 30 and 50 megawatts of energy. The company uses solar power at 26 facilities and generates electricity from landfill gas at two assembly plants.

Starwood Energy Group is a private investment firm based in Greenwich, Conn., that specializes in energy infrastructure investments.