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UNFI Invests in New Solar Facility in North Carolina

Project will generate power for local homes and provide key climate action lessons for food wholesaler
Lynn Petrak, Progressive Grocer
UNFI Invests in New Solar Facility in North Carolina
UNFI is investing in solar energy as part of its ESG commitment.

United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI) is taking a step forward in its pursuit of climate action, not just for the company but for other businesses and community residents. This week, the food wholesaler announced that it is investing in a new 640-acre solar facility in North Carolina through a partnership with solar project developer Pine Gates Renewables and U.S. Bank.

Set to launch this month, the 108.5 megawatt Trent River Solar facility in Jones County, N.C., contains 800,000 solar panels and will create enough energy to power 14,000 homes and support hundreds of regional jobs. Although UNFI is not acquiring energy at this facility or receiving a renewable energy certificate from it, the project is part of the company’s “Better for All” environmental social governance (ESG) platform.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to sponsor Trent River Solar and are pleased to work with Pine Gate Renewables and U.S. Bank to bring this project to life to create local clean energy and jobs,” said Steven L. Spinner, UNFI’s chairman and CEO. “UNFI has work ahead of us to reduce our emissions and we look forward to applying knowledge learned from this project to our pursuits of climate action.”

In May, UNFI announced that it is adding more than 50 all-electric transport refrigerated trailer units to a fleet in California. Through its 2020 ESG initiatives, UNFI piloted its first all-electric solar powered refrigerated trailer in California, formed a team to tackle food waste in its distribution center operations and boosted its CDP Climate Change Score to an A- through discussions and actions aimed at reducing emissions and mitigating climate risks.

Providence, R.I.-based UNFI delivers a wide variety of products to customer locations throughout North America, including natural product superstores, independent retailers, conventional supermarket chains, e-commerce retailers and foodservice customers. The largest publicly traded grocery distributor in America, the company is No. 47 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer's list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. 

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