On Oct. 27, Sustainability Day, organic yogurt maker Stonyfield Organic announced a key milestone in its climate efforts: a new commitment to use 100 percent renewable electricity at its Londonderry, New Hampshire manufacturing facility by the end of 2022.
This would put it ahead of schedule, through its purchase of renewable energy credits (RECs) and by supporting the construction of seven new solar projects in New Hampshire, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
In June 2021, Stonyfield Organic announced new sustainability goals, including a commitment to 100 percent renewable electricity supply for its Londonderry facility by 2025, 100 percent renewable electricity for its dairy supply chain by 2025 and a carbon positive dairy supply chain by 2030.
The New Hampshire-based company has made significant headway in the last three months and has focused efforts on its carbon emission reduction work, allowing it to meet its goal for the Londonderry facility early by three years. To achieve this, Stonyfield Organic is supporting the construction of seven new solar projects, which will replace non-renewable sources of electricity, enabling the utilities to sell renewable electricity and allowing the company to purchase the RECs created by three of the solar facilities.
“Transitioning our manufacturing facility in Londonderry, New Hampshire, and the family farms we source from to renewable energy sources is a key part of how we get to our science-based target to reduce our emissions 30 percent by 2030. We’re excited to take this first step towards 100 percent renewable energy for our Londonderry manufacturing facility ahead of schedule, so we can turn our focus to supporting the farms from which we source our milk directly in making this transition next,” said Britt Lundgren, director of sustainable and organic agriculture at Stonyfield Organic.
In New Hampshire, the company has teamed up with Aligned Climate Capital, the project owner, and GSSG Solar LLC, the project developer, to help bring four of these solar projects to life. They are under construction and are currently expected to be operational by January 2022.
Through construction and operation, the projects will create new construction jobs and potentially spur local economic development, furthering Stonyfield Organic’s mission of a healthy planet and healthy people.
Two of the sites, located in Loudon and Conway, are located on land owned by private residents and the lease payments are helping them keep the land in their families. The other two sites are in Nashua. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, New Hampshire is ranked 41st out of the 50 states in terms of deployed solar, and solar accounts for less than 1 percent of the state’s electricity. These projects will help the state improve the availability of solar power as part of total energy generated.
In the Midwest, Stonyfield Organic has teamed up with OneEnergy Renewables, a solar energy developer, to support three projects that will sell electricity to local rural electric cooperatives. Rushford Village Solar, Stockton Solar and Stromland Solar represent an investment of more than $8 million and will generate cost-effective electricity for the rural communities of Fillmore and Winona Counties in Minnesota and Buffalo County, Wisconsin.
The land around the panels will be either grazed by sheep or planted to pollinator prairie habitat. The land to host the projects will be leased from local farm families and municipalities and will generate reliable income over the project life for the landowner partners. About one third of electricity in the broader region is generated by coal; these solar projects will allow the rural electric cooperatives who are buying the electricity to rely less on coal and other imported forms of electricity and more on local renewable electricity.
These projects are currently projected to start commercial operations in November 2021 and the sale of RECs to Stonyfield Organic will start in December.
By separately leveraging its electricity load and converting that revenue into buying power, Stonyfield Organic can support new renewable energy developments both locally and nationally, as well as reduce costs overall and support more renewables. The RECs will enable Stonyfield Organic to attain 75 percent renewable electricity for the Londonderry manufacturing facility.
Stonyfield Organic is actively looking for additional impactful projects and sustainable energy programs to attain the remaining 25 percent by the end of 2022.