Henrico County-based Altria Group Inc. has agreed to buy power from a wind power energy development in Texas that the company said is aimed at offsetting emissions from all of Altria’s electricity demand at its U.S. operations.
Altria, the parent company of top U.S. tobacco company Philip Morris USA and one of the Richmond region’s largest employers, said it signed a virtual power purchase agreement, or VPPA, to buy energy produced by a new wind farm project in Haskell and Throckmorton counties, Texas.
The wind power farm in Texas is being developed by, owned and operated by a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources LLC, a Florida-based company that says it is the world’s largest operator of wind and solar energy projects.
The deal is Altria’s first-ever virtual power purchase agreement, said Sal Mancuso, the company’s executive vice president and chief financial officer.
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Altria has set a goal of achieving 100% renewable electricity and reducing its greenhouse-gas emissions by 55% by 2030. The company has operations in the Richmond area, including Henrico, where its headquarters office is, and a manufacturing plant in Richmond as well as subsidiary operations in Kentucky and Tennessee.
“When the project is operational, we expect we will hit both those targets — ahead of schedule,” Mancuso said. “We’re proud to support a project that will bring additional renewable energy to the electricity grid, contributing to positive climate action.”
Under the virtual power purchase deal, Altria will buy the power generated by the wind farm, which then goes onto the electricity grid. The power does not go directly to an Altria facility, but the renewable energy offsets Altria’s use of energy from other sources at its locations.
Altria did not disclose the financial value of the agreement.
NextEra Energy Resources LLC said the wind power project is expected to be operational by the end of 2022 with a total generation capacity of 301 megawatts. The company did not respond to other requests for comment from a call and an email.
Altria said its agreement equates to around 400,000 megawatt hours of renewable electricity per year — the equivalent of the power used by more than 51,000 homes. It also is expected to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by about 283,000 metric tons, or equivalent to the emissions from more than 61,000 passenger vehicles being driven each year.