SIOUX CENTER—Since May, every kilowatt-hour powering a Sioux Center pork processing facility has been derived from a renewable source.
Perdue Premium Meat Co. — previously known as Sioux-Preme Packing Co. — announced an agreement with Orange City-based North West REC to purchase only renewable energy from the nonprofit member-owned utility.
Gary Malenke, senior vice president of Perdue Premium Pork Operations, explained why the company was making this transition at its Sioux Center location.
“We have a growing customer base that has interest in renewable energy, which also aligns with the company’s environmental responsibility goals,” he said.
Maryland-based Perdue Farms, which purchased the Sioux Center plant in 2015, launched a companywide initiative in April 2018 to reduce its environmental footprint significantly by 2022.
Working with North West REC allows Perdue’s Sioux Center operation to follow that lead.
“We are proud to partner with our local North West Rural Electric Cooperative who has provided us access to the program,” Malenke said.
North West Rural Electric has offered a Prairie Winds Green Energy program since 2002.
The program allows customers to voluntarily contribute to the development of alternate energy production facilities, which may include biomass, solar, wind, biomass and other nontraditional generation technologies.
According to CEO Lyle Korver, North West REC has close to 10,000 customers spread across Ida, O’Brien, Plymouth and Sioux counties, and Perdue is the only one to fully support renewables.
“Their participation in the Prairie Winds program will help support the further development of wind energy, which is beneficial to the cooperative and our member-owners,” Korver said.
On an annual basis, the Perdue plant uses about 10 million kilowatt-hours, which is about the average annual electricity consumption for 961 U.S. residential utility customers, according to information from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
The switch to renewable energy is another major investment in Sioux Center for Perdue, which has more than 200 people on staff and is one of the largest employers in the growing Sioux County community of about 7,800 residents.
In August 2018, the company announced a $29 million expansion to the facility. Malenke said despite weather challenges, that addition is coming along nicely.
The two-story, 50,000-square-foot addition will create 50 new jobs. Some of the features of the expansion include adding high-tech automated pork cutting equipment and water jet cutting technologies.
Perdue’s Sioux Center location focuses focus on providing niche products such as antibiotic-free, breed specific or organic pork, and produces pork for the Coleman Natural, Niman Ranch and Sioux-Preme brands.