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SD Cement Plant Gets Clean (Energy) With the Wind

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released a list of large corporations that run on green power. This “Green Power Partners” list includes heavyweights such as Google, Starbucks, and Goldman Sachs, but many smaller companies are also joining in on this trend—and making a significant impact by doing so. 

One of those companies is GCC, a leading producer of cement, ready-mix concrete, and aggregates for the construction industry. GCC recently announced it’s Rapid City, South Dakota, plant will transition to wind energy in the next year. Thanks to a partnership with Black Hills Energy, 50 percent of the plant’s electricity needs will be derived from wind power. It will remain that way for at least the next fifteen years. 

The company says it’s acting independently as the industry  waits on Congress to pass a federal framework to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Rapid City plant’s evolution to wind power will reportedly reduce carbon emissions by around 50,000 metric tons per year, or the equivalent of taking 11,000 cars off the road. For reference, the EPA reports the average passenger vehicle produces 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year, although this estimate can vary. 

“By choosing low-cost renewable energy resources to power our business, we’re able to advance our business goals and sustainability objectives while also supporting the expansion of affordable, renewable energy development in the region,” said Ron Henley, GCC, U.S. Division president. “Clean energy is good for the planet and good for our company.”

Black Hills Energy will build a wind power facility near Cheyenne, Wyoming, that will serve GCC’s Rapid City plant as well as other commercial, industrial, and government entities in both South Dakota and Wyoming. Black Hills says it will evaluate, “whether and how such an option might be made available for residential and small business customers in the future.”

According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), the wind industry employs approximately 114,000 Americans and hires veterans at an impressive rate: 67 percent above the national average. On top of that, energy efficiency jobs–including those focused on wind power–employ more Americans than the fossil fuel industry in 41 states and the District of Columbia, according to data from the 2019 U.S. Energy and Employment Report.

In South Dakota alone, energy-efficient jobs account for 19 percent of all construction jobs and 29 percent of all energy sector jobs. The state’s energy-efficient jobs are also veteran-friendly–13 percent of South Dakota residents employed in this sector are veterans. 

As for GCC, this isn’t the first time the company has taken steps to be more environmentally conscious. Last year, the EPA recognized their Pueblo, Colorado, plant as being one of the most energy-efficient manufacturing facilities in the country. Meanwhile, earlier this year, GCC joined the Science Based Targets Initiative, an effort that mobilizes companies in their transition to the low carbon economy. 

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