PALO ALTO, Calif. — The words are stenciled on the front of the Apple Store, a glass box sandwiched between a nondescript Thai restaurant and a CVS pharmacy in downtown Palo Alto: “This store runs on 100 percent renewable energy.”
If Apple’s plans play out, it will be able to make that claim not only for its operations throughout California but also beyond, as the company aims to meet its growing needs for electricity with green sources like solar, wind and hydroelectric power.
Like other big companies before it, including Walmart and Google, Apple recently received a federal designation for its energy subsidiary that allows it to become a wholesale seller of electricity from coast to coast. In effect, Apple is creating its own green utility company, although the main customer is itself.
The motives may be economic as much as they are environmental. As a wholesaler, Apple could reduce the cost of its electricity load, which reached 831 million kilowatt-hours in the last fiscal year — enough to power about 76,000 homes for a year. But like a growing number of corporations, Apple is intent on reducing carbon dioxide emissions from electricity production — one of the biggest sources of greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.