Companies Using Alternative Power Sources

In the sea of companies proclaiming their ‘green’ credentials because they purchase carbon offsets, it is refreshing to hear of companies that practice real environmentally-friendly practices. Within the past month two American companies announced plans to use renewable power.
Recreational Equipment Inc., better known as REI, announced on May 15 that it will install photovoltaic solar panels in 10 percent of its stores. The stores chosen are located throughout California.

The solar panels will generate about 1.1 million kilowatt hours of electricity, and prevent 880 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. Photovoltaic panels can generate around 35 percent of each store’s electricity needs.
Photovoltaic panels “use solar electric panels to directly convert the sun’s energy into electricity,” according to
“We are continuously looking for ways to make the design, construction and operation of our buildings more sustainable,” said Brian Unmacht, REI’s executive vice president of Sales, Service, Store Development and Logistics. “This investment in solar technology will deliver both financial and environmental benefits, helping to contribute to the long-term strength of the co-op and support our goal to reduce our carbon footprint.”
“It is naturally fitting that REI, whose main focus is promoting the great outdoors, would make use of renewable resources to reduce their impact on the environment and energize their stores.” said Mark Walter, president of Christenson Electric, Inc. “Christenson is proud to be involved with REI’s solar projects, along with our photovoltaic designer, EI Solutions.”
Smart Papers Building Cogeneration Plant
The paper producer Smart Papersbroke ground on a cogeneration plant to power its Ohio factory the end of April. The plant is scheduled for completion for spring 2009. The 115 year old company, which invented coated paper for magazines, will spend $30 million on the cogeneration plant.
According to, cogeneration is “the simultaneous production of power/electricity, hot water, and/or steam from one fuel.” Thomas Edison designed built the first cogeneration plant in 1882. The cogeneration plant will use yard waste, industrial wood, and fiber waste combined with steam to generate 40 megawatts of power.
“SMART Papers is the first North American premium papermaker to begin the process of becoming truly 100% carbon neutral and fossil fuel free in its papermaking production,” said Smart Papers Chairman Tim Needham. “This is a major environmental advance in papermaking-we have set a new standard for environmentally responsible printing papers.”
“The production of these papers will leave the lightest environmental footprint of any premium coated or uncoated printing paper produced in North America,” Needham “We are committed to being the green leader in the global paper manufacturing industry,” Needham said.
“This move to carbon-neutral production is the centerpiece of our environmental and energy strategies. It enables us to have a future that is completely independent of volatile energy markets,” said Dan Maheu, SMART Papers President. “We will reduce production costs, make carbon-neutral papers and greatly reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. We will also be a positive contributor to the green power needs of Ohio and the Midwest.”
“We see our approach as the smart choice,” said Maheu. “We will be a more efficient manufacturer, fiscally and environmentally responsible, and energy independent. This will benefit our business, our customers, our employees and the environment. We will always push to exceed customer expectations when it comes to environmental stewardship.”

Gina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by

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