Seeking: Leading Companies to Drive Renewable Energy Revolution

Editor's Note: Earlier this month, Walmart joined Bloomberg, Facebook, General Motors, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Johnson & Johnson, Mars, Novelis, Procter and Gamble, REI, and Sprint in signing the Renewable Energy Buyer’s Principles. The goal of these Principles is to increase availability of cost-competitive renewable energy to run their businesses and better communicate their purchasing needs and expectations to the marketplace. 

What can rotary dial telephones, cathode ray tube (CRT) televisions and door to door milk delivery teach us about the renewable energy revolution? They show us how once commonplace products and services have and will always be replaced by newer ones. It’s not farfetched to say 2014 is to renewable energy what 1955 was to the CRT TV – the golden age of renewable energy is just now upon us.

Many of America’s largest companies are also convinced that a clean energy future is what they want, and they’ve set significant goals to get there. In fact, 43% of Fortune 500 companies have set renewable energy and efficiency targets, and – better still – 60% of the Fortune 100 have set targets.

These corporations are demonstrating real progress toward their goals. For example, Mars, Inc., a food company known for its chocolate products, recently announced that it will build a 200-megawatt (MW) wind farm in Lamesa, TX, which, according to Mars, is the largest long-term commitment to renewable energy made by any food manufacturing business in the U.S. We read about other large deals nearly every day.

In the process of switching to renewable energy, companies have gained a great deal of experience. Unfortunately, this transition hasn’t been easy. Utilities have been slow to respond to their major customers’ needs. When the companies bypass their utilities to purchase renewable energy elsewhere, they are having successes, but face complex deals and financing arrangements making it hard to buy renewables at the scale they need.

What do the companies want? The companies want utilities, utility regulators, and providers of renewable energy to understand that they have large demand for clean renewable energy. The system that exists now makes it difficult to meet their goals. But companies are willing, and in many cases would prefer to work with all these key players to make renewable energy available more quickly.

In every other aspect of their business, companies are used to a competitive market for the commodities they buy. The best quality goods at the most favorable terms win the contract. However, where energy is concerned -- and particularly renewable energy -- companies have far fewer choices. In many markets, companies have no choice at all. In others, choices are extremely limited or require a price premium over fossil-fuel produced energy, in quantities too small to meet the company needs, and subject to ongoing price volatility. All in all, this hinders companies’ ability to meet their renewable energy targets and discourages the setting of more ambitious targets. We should be rewarding these corporate leaders trying to do the right thing with their energy use, not slowing them down.

On the upside, there is a huge opportunity available to utilities and renewable energy providers who can bring companies what they need. The companies that have signed onto the Corporate Renewable Energy Buyers’ Principles alone account for 8.4 million megawatt hours of demand per year, enough electricity to power nearly 800,000 homes each of the next few years. Many of these companies would prefer to meet this need by purchasing renewable electricity through their local utility companies, but if utility companies are unable to provide it, they are -- and will -- continue to go elsewhere.

A more robust, open renewable energy market with innovative tariffs would create the competition needed to encourage other companies to set and meet aggressive renewable targets, something that would literally benefit the entire planet. If that sounds like a good idea to you, we welcome more companies to sign onto the Corporate Renewable Energy Buyers’ Principles.

Intrigued? Shoot me an email and we’ll talk about meeting your company’s renewable energy targets. For utility regulators, it’s time to find out what your customers want and find a way to meet that need. If you don’t, someone else will.

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Expanding Your Marketplace of Products on

The internet changed how we shop. It brought the store to our screens. More and more, when it comes to finding the exact product that we want at the best possible price, we search and buy online.

When you visit, my team and I work hard to make sure you can find what you need, every single day. One way we do that is through our Marketplace sellers.

What is Marketplace? I like to explain it like this: Imagine you’re in a shopping mall, and instead of visiting lots of different stores to find what you want, everything you’re looking for is in one store. What’s more, you’ve got a personal shopper helping sort through all the options, morphing the shelves as your preferences change, to find your perfect item at the perfect price.

That’s what’s happening behind the scenes when you visit When you search for an item, not only do you see options from’s own inventory – your search likely brings up choices from third-party sellers, too. These are third-party sellers that we’ve chosen to work with because they offer a great selection of products at a great price.

Marketplace makes it easier for customers to find a wider range of the items we sell in stores, plus some other brands you might not find at a store, like Toms and Vans shoes.

Since this time last year, we’ve grown the number of Marketplace sellers by more than 30 times. This has helped us triple our assortment on since last year, with more than 20 million items today, and growing.

One of our highest priorities in developing the Marketplace is ensuring the quality of our overall customer experience. We reach out to customers to learn about their experiences, and we’re proactive about checking data to see where we can help Marketplace sellers improve their performance to go above and beyond.

We’ll continue to focus on our Marketplace sellers as they help us help you find exactly what you need. This is just one way is working to make your online shopping experience better across the board.

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How Acres for America is Maintaining the Majestic Midwest

For generations, Midwesterners have retreated to the Arcadia Dunes preserve – an oasis along Lake Michigan – to connect with nature, climb the sand peaks and take in the enormity of America’s third-largest lake.

The 3,600-acre property, also known as the C.S. Mott Nature Preserve, offers public access to one of the largest remaining natural areas along Lake Michigan. There, visitors can partake in some of the Midwest’s best opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, birding and snowshoeing.

Back in 2003, the property’s owners planned to develop the land into a golf-course community with hundreds of homes and condominiums.

“That would have had a domino effect,” said Glen Chown, longtime executive director of the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy, which owns and manages the property. “The development would have led to hundreds of additional homes nearby. Farming would have most likely been pushed out. There would be no public access anywhere.”

The conservancy led a massive campaign to raise more than $30 million to acquire Arcadia Dunes and secure conservation easements on other nearby properties. People rallied to the cause.

Through a combination of gifts large and small, the conservancy and its conservation partners raised nearly all of the required funds. To close the last gap, the conservancy applied for and in 2006 was awarded a $500,000 grant from Acres for America, a collaboration between Walmart and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

“The Acres for America grant helped us at a time when we had pretty much exhausted every opportunity,” Chown said. “Acres was our closer.”

Acres for America began in 2005, when Walmart made its first commitment of $35 million to purchase and preserve one acre of wildlife habitat in the United States for every acre of land developed by the company – approximately 100,000 acres as of today. The Arcadia Dunes project was one of the program’s earliest grants.

Ten years after the Arcadia Dunes grant was awarded, Acres for America has far surpassed its original goal with more than 1 million acres protected – an area comparable in size to Grand Canyon National Park. In November 2015, Walmart and NFWF announced a 10-year, $35 million renewal of the program.

By offsetting the land Walmart needs to operate with far more valuable land – both to wildlife and to people – the Acres for America program is making a real difference in the quality of life for local communities across the nation.

The preservation of places such as Arcadia Dunes show why Acres for America has become one of the most successful public-private conservation efforts in American history.

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The Pumpkin Spy: Your Handpicked Guide to a Seasonal Favorite

When I was a kid, pumpkins were for carving, baking into pies, or … well, that’s about it. Now, there are hundreds of pumpkin-flavored foods and pumpkin-scented products on the market.

According to Nielsen data, last year, 37% of U.S. consumers purchased a pumpkin-flavored product, and sales from pumpkin-flavored products grew 79% between 2011 and 2015. Luckily, I have combed through the shelves to find the latest and greatest #pumpkinspice products available at your local Walmart.

From breakfast foods to home goods, there is enough to keep your pantry stocked at least until you are ready to move on peppermint in December. Obviously, there are a lot of coffee-related products, but even if you aren’t a coffee drinker, there is a pumpkin spice product for you.

Pumpkin Spice Cheerios
Take one of America’s most popular cereals and combine it with the fairy tale magic of pumpkin spice. My only question: What took you guys so long?

Quaker Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal
Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal will make an excellent comfort food on a chilly autumn morning, while you’re snuggled in a big comfy chair, trying to remember why you got out of bed in the first place.

Fresh-Fall Pumpkin Febreze Air Effects
To get insight into the proliferation of pumpkin items beyond food, I spoke to Tifanie Van Laar-Wagner, Walmart’s senior buyer for air care products. “Customers see pumpkin as a signal to the beginning of family gatherings and celebrations of the season,” she said.

Lindt Lindor Pumpkin Spice Truffles
Milk chocolate + pumpkin spice = <3

Thomas Pumpkin Spice English Muffins
Just add a bit of butter and honey, and you’ve made your regular breakfast feel indulgent and – dare I say – hip!

Little Debbie Pumpkin Spice Rolls
You know that great pumpkin bread that someone in your office makes around the holidays? It’s like that, only smaller.

Predictions for fall 2017: pumpkin spice deodorant, pumpkin spice popsicles, and pumpkin spice oil changes at our Auto Care Center (just kidding). As you can see, when it comes to pumpkin spice, there’s a proliferation of possibilities.

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Meet Your Holiday Helpers for a Fast, Friendly Checkout

As the holidays grow nearer, our shopping lists begin to lengthen.

Among the party essentials, children’s wishes and groceries, there’s one precious item many of us find ourselves wanting at the same time: a few extra moments in our schedules.

While the gift of time isn’t something that can be plucked off the shelves, there’s one way we’re working to ensure you can find it this year at Walmart. It’s introducing our Holiday Helpers, who will be helping to grant you a few extra minutes all season.

Decked out in bright yellow vests, jingling hats and a colorful satchel full of goodies, our Holiday Helpers will be stationed near the registers to provide an extra fast, friendly checkout experience. When lines are looking long, a Helper will open a new line to serve customers and help get everyone out the door in a snap.

Even better: If you’re in line, and you happen to remember a last-minute item you forgot, like milk, they’ll go and pick it up for you.

The idea to introduce Holiday Helpers came from customer feedback and Walmart’s store associates paying close attention to shoppers’ habits. As more customers shop during peak hours, Holiday Helpers step in with a smile to enhance the checkout experience, helping ensure that everyone can pay and be on their way quickly.

Customers will start seeing Holiday Helpers in stores beginning Nov. 4, and a new 30-second commercial that’s set to air in the coming days will offer a taste of what’s to come.

It’s our hope that these new helpers will become busy customers’ heroes when it comes to squeezing a little extra time out of a packed schedule this season.

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