RBC, Shopify to buy power from Berkshire’s Alberta wind project

Wind power Source: iStock/eyematrix

Royal Bank of Canada, Shopify Inc. and Bullfrog Power Inc. have agreed to buy a combined 90,000 megawatt-hours of energy a year from a Berkshire Hathaway Inc. wind farm in Canada.

The firms are purchasing the power from Berkshire Hathaway Energy Canada’s 130-megawatt Rattlesnake Ridge Wind Power Project in southeast Alberta, according to a release Wednesday. The project, consisting of 26 wind turbines, is expected to be operating by May.

The agreement advances Royal Bank’s plan to source all its energy from renewable and non-emitting sources by 2025, and the commitment to purchase a fixed amount of power from the project helps ensure its viability, said Julia-Maria Becker, senior manager for sustainable enterprise operations. Royal Bank didn’t disclose the fixed price at which it’s buying the power.

“With signing a power purchase agreement, we take on some of the risk of the renewable-energy project,” Becker said in an interview. “Therefore, we make the project more attractive in the market.” 

Royal Bank in 2020 signed an agreement to buy electricity from a solar farm, helping the firm get about 84 per cent of its power from renewable sources. It’s too early to tell how much closer to the 100 per cent goal the Rattlesnake Ridge project will move the bank, Becker said.

The lender may consider more power deals in the future as it works toward its broader climate goals, said Alex Boulos, vice-president for climate strategy and governance.

“One of the pillars of our strategy is around net-zero leadership in our own operations, and this is a really important part of leading by example,” Boulos said.

For Shopify, “a global transition to clean energy is critical for powering commerce and entrepreneurs,” and working with Royal Bank and Bullfrog Power was essential for providing enough demand for the wind project, Stacy Kauk, director of Shopify’s sustainability fund, said in a statement.

Berkshire chief executive officer Warren Buffett classifies his firm’s energy business as one of its four giants. The unit has been expanding its renewable-energy ambitions in recent years to create what Buffett has deemed a “leading force” in wind and solar power. Earlier this year, the business proposed a $3.9 billion wind and solar complex in Iowa that could be among the renewable industry’s biggest.

Rattlesnake Ridge is expected to employ 150 construction workers at peak development and inject C$56 million ($43 million) into the economy and produce enough electricity for 78,000 homes.

© 2022 Bloomberg L.P.

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