the outdoors

Those Red Wing shoes you buy will be 25% solar-powered

If you needed another reason to buy a pair of Red Wing Shoes (along with the main reason, “because I can finally afford it”) this is it.

The venerable 112-year-old shoemaker based on the banks of the Mississippi River, which thanks to the resurgence of “heritage” fashion has never been cooler, is now looking to boost its eco credentials.

In a press release Thursday, the southeast Minnesota firm announced it has signed a 25-year agreement with Texas-based utility firm NRG Energy to get 25 percent of its energy from solar power.

The power will come from two community solar farms NRG is building in Olmsted and Dodge counties in Minnesota, which forms part of the Xcel Energy community solar program established in 2014.

Red Wing Shoe Company says that thanks to the deal, it will prevent roughly 66,218 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions entering the environment from its plants, warehouses, headquarters and other facilities.

“This partnership makes sense on numerous levels and we’re pleased to be working with a company leading the clean energy movement,” said Mark Urdahl, CEO of Red Wing Shoe Company.

“It is the right thing to do for our planet and future generations, and it sets a positive example for our employees, customers and other stakeholders. What’s more, it provides more predictability and control in our energy prices without interrupting our business operations.”

There’s a business reason for doing this as well. With the cost of installing renewable energy sources like solar and wind coming down all the time, Red Wing Shoe believes the solar credits it will get on its bills will lead to “significant, long-term cost savings for the company.”

It’s another string to Red Wing Shoe’s environmental bow, saying it already sources its “high-quality, long-lasting” products locally and minimizes waste, but it also uses non-ozone depleting materials and has been installing LED lighting in its production centers.

The footwear firm becomes the latest Minnesota company making a move into renewables. Last month, Insight Brewing signed its own 25-year deal with an energy company that will see the entirety of its energy use – and then some – offset by solar power.

“Across Minnesota we are hearing the same strong message from businesses and residents alike: they want to be powered by affordable, renewable energy,” said Drew Warshaw, Vice President of NRG’s community solar department. “Community solar gives them that opportunity without having to put panels on their roofs.”

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