WestRock and Engie sign agreement to add renewable energy to US grid

Two virtual power purchase agreements (VPPAs) between WestRock and Engie North America will contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions on the U.S. energy grid beginning in 2024. (Photo: Business Wire)

WestRock, a leader in sustainable fiber-based paper and packaging solutions, today announced it has entered into two virtual power purchase agreements (VPPAs) with ENGIE North America (ENGIE), a subsidiary of ENGIE S.A. and global leader in the net zero energy transition. The VPPAs are designed to add renewable energy to the U.S. energy grid and mark a step forward in WestRock’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The agreements support two of ENGIE’s solar projects – Bernard Creek located in Wharton County, Texas and Chillingham Solar located in Bell County, Texas – for an aggregate of 282 megawatts (MW).

The new projects comprise one element of WestRock’s strategy to pursue a science-based target (SBT) to reduce Scope 1, 2 and 3 greenhouse gas emissions by 27.5% by 2030. Schneider Electric provided advisory services and strategy management for the WestRock and ENGIE agreements.

“We are pleased to play a role in the development of clean energy from large scale solar projects and to join forces with ENGIE and Schneider Electric to add more renewable energy to the grid,” said David B. Sewell, chief executive officer at WestRock.

WestRock will contract 207 MW from Bernard Creek, a 230 MW solar project which is located southwest of Houston and is expected to have an annual output of approximately 500,000 MWh. The project, slated for completion in the first half of 2024, is expected to generate more than $45 million in revenue for Wharton County over its lifespan and to create more than 250 jobs during construction.

Additionally, WestRock will contract 75 MW from ENGIE’s 350 MW Chillingham Solar project. Chillingham will help support two local school districts with an estimated$70  million in revenue generated over the life of the project, of which $53 million will be paid directly to the school districts. WestRock’s share of Chillingham is expected to be approximately 200,000 MWh per year.

“We are delighted that Bernard Creek and Chillingham Solar will support WestRock’s ambitions to meet their 2030 science-based targets. ENGIE’s projects are focused on meeting the specific needs of our clients as we work together to accelerate the energy transition in North America and this agreement reflects that,” said Dave Carroll, chief renewables officer and country manager, ENGIE North America.

These agreements with WestRock contribute to ENGIE’s continued innovation in renewables, which has resulted in the company being named top developer to sell corporate energy PPAs by BloombergNEF in its latest Market Outlook report and ranked in the top three since 2019. ENGIE’s total corporate PPA portfolio in the U.S. exceeds 7 GW.

According to John Powers, vice president, Global Renewable Energy and Carbon Advisory, Schneider Electric, “Through projects such as Bernard Creek and Chillingham Solar, innovative companies like ENGIE and WestRock are promoting clean energy to the grid while contributing to local communities through economic development, new job opportunities and a commitment to sustainable solutions.”