Since our founding, one of our goals at GoMacro has been to minimize our impact on the environment and be a force for positive environmental progress in our community, industry, and world.
We began the journey towards using 100% renewable energy inside the walls of GoMacro by installing a solar array and purchasing wind energy to fulfill the remainder of our energy consumption at our production facility. Now, through a unique partnership with the Village of Viola, Wisconsin, where GoMacro is located, every home and business in the entire village is 100% renewably powered by wind energy at no additional cost to residents.
Our Journey to 100% Renewable Energy
Our green manufacturing goals began with the installation of 844 solar panels on the roof at our facility in Viola in 2018. These panels generate a significant amount of energy and are responsible for much of the power used at our facility - around 40 MWh of solar energy every month. With an overproduction of solar energy during the day and less production at night, we set out to balance our energy sources for optimum efficiency. To fully utilize our capabilities and provide value to our local community, we sell our excess solar energy to the local grid at a wholesale price.
To compensate for cloudy days and nights when the solar panels are unable to generate adequate supply, we purchase wind RECs (renewable energy credits) from wind energy generated primarily in Rugby, ND. Utilizing these RECs to bring renewable wind energy to our facility required significant infrastructure, partnership with the Village of Viola Public Service Commission, and coordination with regional utility UMMEG.
100% Renewable Energy for an Entire Town
With the infrastructure in place, we saw an opportunity to reach beyond the walls of our facility and make wind power available to every Viola residence, business, and even the local Kickapoo School District at no additional cost to residents. Through this new initiative, the Village of Viola now purchases wind RECs from a group of midwestern municipal utilities referred to as the Upper Midwest Municipal Energy Group (UMMEG). UMMEG obtains these RECs from several sources, but the RECs used in Viola come from wind farms located in Rugby, ND, and a small percentage from nearby Cashton Greens Wind Farm.
With the ratification of the new program, GoMacro now covers the additional costs of purchasing renewable energy credits (RECs) for the entire municipality, effectively subsidizing all Viola residents’ use of renewable energy from wind. In this way, residents see no difference in their energy bills and receive this green energy at no additional cost.
How do RECs work?
Not every area is conducive to every type of renewable energy generated, and the infrastructure required for wind energy generation can be prohibitive for most individual companies or households. Instead, companies can utilize renewable energy credits (RECs) to purchase megawatt-hours (MWh) of renewable energy from the sources producing them.
Any given electric grid includes power from many sources, but there’s no way to track where the individual electrons used in a particular building were generated. Therefore, the REC system was created to help track these units of energy. A REC is produced when a renewable energy source generates one MWh of electricity and sends it to the grid. All RECs are uniquely numbered and generally include information such as where they were generated, the type of renewable resource they came from, and a date stamp of generation. Once they’ve been sold, they cannot be purchased again. The exchange of RECs is tracked and recorded.
For example, if the wind power facility in Rugby, ND produces 5 MWh of electricity, they have 5 RECs they can sell to Dairyland Power and other utility companies. When Dairyland buys those RECs on behalf of UMMEG, Viola is purchasing the “renewable” aspect of the electricity from the wind farm. We can say that 5 MWh of our electricity use came from a renewable source. The purchase of these RECs not only displaces the use of non-renewable power sources but also supports the demand for renewable energy in the region.
Thanks to the successful conversion to 100% renewable energy, GoMacro is also a part of the EPA's Green Power Partnership, a program that recognizes and supports the environmental leadership of businesses and communities across the country.
"EPA applauds GoMacro for its commitment to using green power and for taking a leadership position on the environment," said James Critchfield, Program Manager of EPA's Green Power Partnership. "GoMacro is helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provides an excellent example for other businesses to invest in environmental progress."
It Takes a Village
This vision couldn’t have become a reality without the Viola Municipal Electric Utility, the Upper Midwest Municipal Energy Group, renewable energy advisors, and GoMacro’s own Tony Saarem, Director of Operations, member of the Organic Trade Alliance, and environmentalist. We’re very grateful for the opportunity to extend our sustainability goals outside our doors and positively impact the planet and community. Learn more about our sustainability initiatives.