Nestlé Waters expects to produce about 30% of the power requirements of its Cabazon, California, water bottling plant when two 1.6 megawatt wind turbines currently being installed are operational. In addition to bottling, the plant also produces the PET bottles used to package a couple of brands of bottled water.
Nestlé Waters is joining a number of companies that are considering or moving to install private renewable power systems. The project involved a siting partnership with the Morongo Band of Mission Indians. A renewable energy company, Foundation Windpower, installs, operates and owns the wind turbines and NWNA purchases the power produced directly and receives renewable energy credits from Foundation Windpower.
It is in the area of carbon emission reductions that the situation with these kind of projects becomes somewhat less clear. Nestlé Waters claims that the renewable energy project will save 7,320 tons of CO2 emissions, presumably on an annual basis. The power that will in future come from the turbines used to come from the Southern California power grid. However, unless Southern California actually reduces the amount of power generated, there will not actually be any savings on carbon emissions. The accounting for the carbon emissions will simply switch from Nestlé Waters to some other company, community, or organization that purchases the power that used to go to the Nestlé Waters facility. The reduction in total California carbon emissions may in fact be illusory.
GallonLetter has commented on this problem before. It is similar to the problem that will exist in our home province of Ontario when the province finally closes all coal-fired generation facilities. Thousands of companies will be able to claim that they have reduced their carbon emissions from purchased electricity, yet the companies will have actually done nothing except continue to purchase power from the provincial grid. Both the province and the federal government will also take credit for the same emission reductions.
Neither situation provides a reason for discouraging increased use of renewable power by industry. However, those who write these press releases and who define mechanisms for reporting carbon emissions from purchased power need to review the rules for claiming greenhouse gas emission reduction. Without a change, companies will continue to report massive reductions in carbon emission reductions while government reports show that carbon emissions in their jurisdiction are not going down at a corresponding rate.
Details on the Nestlé Waters North America wind turbine project in California can be found at http://www.nestle-watersna.com/en/media/pressreleases/nestle-hosts-its-first-two-on-site-wind-turbines-in-the-world-at-cabazon-calif-bottled-water-plant