Winds of change at Sam's Club

The world's largest retailer, Walmart, wasn't kidding when it pledged to become a leader in all things green. Consider what's going on at its Sam's Club store in Palmdale in Southern California.

It has mounted 17 micro wind turbines on light poles in the parking lot to help power the store. The turbines are estimated to provide 76,000 kilowatt-hours of energy annually – enough to power more than six average American homes for a year, Wal-Mart said in a news release.

The development adds to the company’s other renewable energy projects in the state, including solar installations at 28 Walmart and Sam’s Club sites, and fuel cell installations at two Walmart stores.

The turbines were installed in Palmdale because the area has strong wind resources. Wind power is one of the most environmentally friendly sources of renewable energy since there are no greenhouse gas emissions or pollution associated with energy generation. Wind turbines rotate to convert the kinetic energy of the wind into mechanical energy.

In early May, Walmart will complete another wind turbine project at a new Walmart store in Worcester, Ma. The retailer plans to consider other locations for micro wind projects as well.

The projects help the company complete energy objectives, which also include eliminating 20 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions from its global supply chain by the end of 2015.

“We are thrilled to be the first to demonstrate micro wind turbines in a retail environment, and pleased this project complements other wind and solar installations in California,” said Paul Stone, a senior vice president of Sam’s Club. “This project required a lot of collaboration and we appreciate the city of Palmdale for their efforts throughout the process and construction.”

It's unlikely, of course, that every Sam's Club will get micro wind turbines. Many cities simply don't get enough wind, but maybe stores such as the one in Fresno will find some other source of clean and green energy.

The San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Organization is a nonprofit dedicated to improving our region's quality of life by increasing its production and use of clean energy. The SJVCEO works with cities and counties and public and private organizations to demonstrate the benefits of energy efficiency and renewable energy throughout the eight-county region of the San Joaquin Valley.