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Loblaw unveils 2025 plan to begin buying renewable electricity

Retail and grocery titan says it will cut its overall operating emissions by 17%

An illustration of the renewable energy sources Loblaw plans to use for its Alberta operations starting 2025. (Courtesy Loblaw Companies Limited)

Loblaw Companies Limited (L-T) has announced it will power its Alberta operations – comprising over 280 locations – with renewable electricity from TC Energy starting 2025, which it says will cut its operating emissions by 17 per cent.

In a press release, Loblaw says its franchises located across Alberta, including Real Canadian Superstore, Shoppers Drug Mart, No Frills, Real Canadian Liquor Store, Independent and Wholesale Club, as well as its offices and distribution centres, will eventually be powered by wind, solar and hydroelectricity.

"This project delivers that by turning our highest-carbon emitting energy market into our lowest, in one single step,” Galen G. Weston, chairman and president of Loblaw, said in the release.

“Today's announcement is a powerful example of private industry working together to bring scaled change to the energy transition."

Powering its Alberta operations with renewables

Loblaw says it will be purchasing the renewable electricity from TC Energy, a Calgary-based energy company that has traditionally focused on oil and gas, but is diversifying into clean energy.

The purchase will provide over 300,000 megawatt-hours of electricity per year, Loblaw says, enough to power 45,000 homes in Alberta. It will save up to 180,000 tonnes of carbon emissions, the company says, lowering its national operating emissions by 17 per cent.

To address intermittency concerns, Loblaw says the purchase will feature a pumped-hydro energy storage station that will store water for hydropower when wind and solar energy are not available.

François Poirier, president and CEO of TC Energy, says in the release, "After many productive discussions to understand Loblaw's decarbonization needs, our team crafted a plan to help them access carbon-free electricity to power their entire operation in Alberta."

The ramp-up will be phased, Loblaw says: “Elements of the program are expected to come online in 2025."

Meeting Loblaw’ ESG commitments

The renewables purchase fits into the environmental plan of Loblaw, Canada’s largest retailer with over 2,400 locations nationwide under a multitude of banners. The company's goal is to reach net-zero for "enterprise operating emissions" by 2040 and net-zero by 2050 for its Scope 3 emissions.

An interim goal for 2030 is to reduce its enterprise operation footprint by 50 per cent from a 2020 baseline.

As per its 2022 ESG report, Loblaw reports it emitted 407,217 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in Scope 2 emissions — its electricity-related usage.

The vast majority of its emissions are in the Scope 3 category; approximately 97 per cent.

Joining other Canadian renewables purchasers

Loblaw is the latest large Canadian company or Canadian branch taking action to address GHG emissions related to electricity with renewable energy.

In 2022, Berkshire Hathaway Energy signed a power purchase agreement (PPA) with Bullfrog Power for the 130 MW Rattlesnake Ridge wind power project near Medicine Hat, Alta., while Shopify was advised by Bullfrog for a PPA.

Potentia Renewables Inc. and Greengate Power Corporation signed a 15-year PPA with Microsoft to acquire energy from the 198-MW Paintearth Wind Project LP.

Amazon invested into an 80-megawatt solar project near Calgary that is expected to produce over 195,000 megawatt-hours of solar energy.

On the smaller scale, Rabba Fine Foods will install 2,585 solar panels at its Mississauga distribution facilities. It expects to generate more than 1.5 million kilowatt-hours of electricity per year, reducing its carbon dioxide emissions by 822 tonnes.

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