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Walmart, Safeway, Others Unplugging From Unreliable Power Grid

Walmart solar panelsMore large corporations have decided that the electric power grid is unreliable and are planning to unplug from it and generate their own electricity.

The Wall Street Journal has confirmed a story that Off the Grid News previously reported – and the newspaper found the practice is even more widespread than previously thought.

Off The Grid News had reported that several large corporations, including Walmart, Safeway, Google, Bank of America and Coca-Cola, are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on systems to generate their own electricity. A Journal article indicates that many other large companies, too, are taking steps to generate their own electricity.

Electric companies are worried

The generation of electricity by private corporations has grown to such a level that it’s beginning to cause utility executives to worry, Journal reporters Rebecca Smith and Cassandra Sweet noted. They wrote: “The growing number of companies that are at least partially energy self-sufficient is sending a shudder through the utility industry, threatening its revenues and growth prospects.”

Harness the power of the sun when the power goes out…

The two made the conclusion based on a report put out by the Edison Electric Institute. The Institute is a think tank for the electricity utility industry.

One of the main reasons large companies are looking into generating their own power is the fear that power outages will become more common. The aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, when large areas of the East Coast went dark, convinced many companies that the grid is unreliable, Rick Fioravanti, an executive at DNV Kema — a consulting company — told The Journal.

Journal Predicts grim future for the grid and home electric customers

Sweet and Smith made some troubling revelations about the power grid and its future in their article. These discoveries include:

  • The widespread generation of electricity by private companies could drive up electric rates for homeowners and small business. They wrote: “State and federal regulators say they are worried that utilities could end up with fewer customers to pay for costly transmission lines and power plants.” That means your electric bill could go up when Google and Walmart unplug from the grid.
  • The number of commercial and industrial facilities that have the capability to generate at least some of their own electricity has quadrupled since 2006. Federal statistics indicated that 10,000 such facilities could generate their own electricity in 2006. In 2013, 40,000 facilities had such a capability.
  • The Kroger Corp. — owner of supermarket chains such as Ralph’s, Food4Less, Kroger and King Soopers — has invested in technology to convert food waste into biogas to power one of its distribution centers, saving it 20 percent on electricity a year. The gas will be made from food Kroger cannot resale and it even will power forklifts. It’ll be used to make electricity. The company plans to employ the technology at many of its facilities. At another location, Kroger is using wind turbines.
  • Walmart currently produces 4 percent of the electricity its stores use. The retail giant which also owns Sam’s Club plans to produce 20 percent of its own electricity by 2020. Most of the electricity will be generated by rooftop solar panels.
  • Other corporations installing solar electric units include: Costco, Kohl’s, Macy’s, McGraw-Hill, Johnson & Johnson, Staples, Campbell Soups, BMW and the Walgreen drug stores.
  • Apple now generates 16 percent of the electricity it consumes using a combination of solar panels and biogas fuel cells. Apple has a data center in Maiden, North Carolina, that is completely independent of the grid. The center produces all of the electricity that it uses.
  • Verizon is planning to install $100 million worth of fuel cells from companies like ClearEdge and Bloom Energy at facilities in 19 states.

The moral of the story is clear: Large corporations no longer think that the grid is dependable. A company like Verizon wouldn’t be spending $100 million on fuel cell technology if it didn’t think it was necessary.

Big rate increases could be coming soon

Yet there’s another reason why corporate executives are rushing to generate their own electricity. It’s because the cost of self-generating technology such as solar panels and fuel cells is falling.

The cost of solar electricity and grid electricity for Walmart will be about the same in three years, David Ozment, the retailer’s director of energy management, told The Journal. If that’s true, it’s safe to assume it might be cheaper for Walmart to generate all of its own electricity and simply disconnect from the grid at some point in the future.

If big companies like Walmart leave the grid, utility companies will have to raise rates on households and small businesses to pay for the system.

Perhaps it is time for families and small businesses to start learning from big business. Big business has realized the importance of maintaining a dependable and affordable source of electricity. Families and small businesses need to start doing the same thing.

electric in half

© 2008-2014 Off The Grid News

26 comments

  1. The rather large corporation I currently work for has made ‘green’ improvements, including installing solar panels at the headquarters….IDK about plans for satellite offices.

  2. Perhaps these “green” corporations s are only thinging about their role in a grid down to be the food distribution monpolies under a FEMA NWO?

    The article’s angle of not depending on the utility companies is not realistic knowing all these corporations sit on each other’s board and own each other’s stock. So they have power to affect changes.

    This GREEN action is not entirely the real story in my opinion.

    • The whole ‘green’ thing is a farce anway and the big coorps heads know it. Most of it is based on the global warming con to attempt to squeeze more money out of the public by blaming the public (and in the U.S. only oddly). Although many lap up happily anything their spoon fed by the system, there is nothing credible to show for any of their claims, and blaming carbon is laughable considering the trees breath it. Al gore made a ‘convicting’ film that used nothing more than marketing tactics like most public lies are. Include only the information that seems to support your agenda. Exclude everything that doesn’t.

  3. in case of emergency (government caused or otherwise), guess who will have power?

  4. this is wonderful but WHY did they wait so long

  5. Big corporations can use their passive incomes (i.e.real estate) to invest in renewable energy (RE) capex projects and essentially using up state sponsored RE funds to build these out. When 1609 funds were released, solar industry had small players adding solar to the residential and commercial. There are also community based solar projects, net metering, etc. It’s all about renewable energy credits that these companies collect when producing RE to offset their EPA standards or reducing their carbon foot print to have energy star label on their produced goods. Carbon tax is coming so investing in solar might not be a bad idea to hedge against upcoming inflationary measures.

    More info here: http://www.dsireusa.org/

    Every state has their own laws…

  6. With chemtrails spewing out toxic chemicals nearly everyday
    blocking out much the sun…why solar?
    The percentage of sunlight
    filtered through these toxic “clouds” is greatly diminished.
    Someone is making lotsa $$$ off solar and one day
    the sunlight will be gone. Matthew 24.

  7. I read an online piece recently about a warehouse fire wherein the fire firemen where impeded by the buildings rooftop solar panel installation. Evidently it is a firefighting approach to break through the roof to inject water on the fire in a top down application. I didn’t think much about it until I saw the photo attending this article. Evidently with these solar installations the firefighter must first turn off the system, which can be problematic, and even then the solars panels will still be producing electricity at the panel, provided it is daytime of course. The article stated that the panels where a major impediment.

  8. Only those with deep pockets can afford it or it deeply has to be subsidized. The power in California is undependable as they are mandated to have so much coming from things like solar or wind, both of which are intermittent and not reliable when most needed. Fuel cells are still very expensive. Smith has a good idea about bio fuel.

    Renewables are flopping in Europe and will here too once people wise up to the nature of power. Only hydro power can work well with it but that is not in abundant supply, only gas and coal currently are with advance nuclear a possible reality.

    People, you have been brained washed with greenwash.

    • Yes and no. Trying to make an enormous solar panel farm is not efficient. Home-based systems, on the other hand, are becoming more cost-effective, as the price of grid power goes up and the price of solar power components comes down. Keep in mind that power is enormously more expensive in some places than others. An example: Compare 2 3 bedroom houses–a 1960’s ranch in Silicon Valley, and a house built circa 1990 in Montana. Both houses have gas furnaces and water heaters, but electric stoves, neither has air conditioning. Same family, same power using habits. We moved from San Jose to Montana last December. In both cases, gas and electric are bundled on the same bill. Our January energy bill in Montana was lower than our June bill in San Jose

  9. Wish I could post a photo here. I have one of a 120vac outlet with a freq of 82Hz. In time, it varied from 59.9 Hz all the way up to 86 Hz. It is supposed to be 60. Everything in this building was going nuts. Computers, security cameras, clocks, anything that relied on a stable power source.

    Building owner is now having to deal with the power company.

  10. Yes. Because my “Household” can just fork over the cash to switch. Any extra we accumulate goes into the kids college fund. I find the wording of “should learn from” rather offensive when not eberyone is capable of this.

  11. I don’t like the way this article is written. As a country we are so behind on alternative energy. I doubt big business will ever fully disconnect from the grid. A grid tied system is more cost effective than trying to un plug. Batteries are a huge expense. When solar is producing the most power it is during “peak sun hours” that is also when we all run our AC. I see more of offsetting the cost. These buildings still require power at night. The local utilities buy huge blocks of power months and years ahead. When they run short then they can add the “energy surcharge” to our bills. If enough of us “offset” our peak use maybe….there will be less of these surcharges…..

  12. Bloom Energy is having serious problems at Walmart and other sites meeting the amount of power promised. Never see anything about this.

  13. All of these solar panels are connected grid tie with no battery backup. The idea that this is somehow going to help when the grid fails is stupidity. Batteries, generators or fuel cells would be needed. This article is designed as a scare tactic, not factual. I live off grid so I know what I am talking about.

  14. What these companies are trying to offset are the prices charged for peak energy usage by the electric utilities. they see that having solar to run the HVAC is much less than paying the utility company to spin up additional turbines for generating power. for a home user what you should be looking at is a gas fired generator that can be used when winter storms come through to provide for you refrigerator and the power needed to run your HVAC and keep you from freezing to death. You don’t need to concern yourself with peak energy charges because you are normally out of the house at the time they are in effect.

    • But the times you most need the solar energy is when the solar insolence is at it’s weakest. And at night your back to depending on the power company. The only reason they are going solar is for the very generous subsidies that get passed on to the taxpayers.

      Solar is faltering in Europe and Great Britain now as they realize it just can’t offset fossil nor nuclear. Germany is having to build more coal plants to replace it’s nuclear plants that are being taken offline.

      Renewables are just not really all that free because of the infrastructure costs to effectively integrate it into the grid. PV-solar is best for remote and small electronics, not supplementing the power grid! But passive solar heating is the best bank per buck option.

  15. So, do they know something the little guy doesn’t know? Yup, I think so.

  16. Electric companies are worried…the real truth is that they are crooked enterprises that charge for every SECOND of electrical usage via smart meters.In the 1970’s a business got charged LESS for using more electricity, now a business is PUNISHED for using too much….. When you turn the world upside down, everything falls out…..

    • The Smart Meters where officially develop to replace meter readers. But now they are being used to monitor usage to comply with carbon emissions so that power companies can turn off or throttle back energy usage to meet CO2 emission regs by the EPA.

      Thank Obama for that!

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