Whole Foods makes record-setting wind-power purchase

Whole Foods Market, mega-purveyor of organic and free-range foodstuffs, plans to purchase a jaw-dropping 458 million kilowatt-hours of wind-energy credits. It will be the largest-ever such purchase in North America, enough to offset the entire company’s projected energy use through 2006. The move will keep about 700 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions out of the atmosphere, according to the U.S. EPA, the equivalent of taking 60,000 cars off the road for a year or planting 90,000 acres of trees. Whole Foods is buying the credits from Boulder, Colo.-based broker Renewable Choice Energy. The purchase is not altruism, according to a Whole Foods director, but simply what the company’s devoted customers expect. Says one outside strategist, “From a branding perspective, it’s a stroke of genius.” You listening, Safeway?