SUN LIGHTS UP WAL-MART
Wal-Mart to double amount of solar energy use
Paul Davidson, April 22, 2009 (USA Today)
"…For Earth Day [Wal-Mart announced]…it will as much as double the size of its solar-power initiative in the next 18 months by putting rooftop solar arrays on 10 to 20 stores and distribution centers in California. The retail giant early this month finished installing solar setups at 18 Wal-Mart and Sam's Club stores and two warehouses in California and Hawaii…Wal-Mart's solar projects will generate enough clean energy to power the equivalent of 2,600 homes…tantamount to taking about 4,000 cars off the road. The company is considering other sites for solar arrays.
"As with the first batch of stores, Wal-Mart won't buy the solar setups outright. Under a 10-year power purchase agreement, or PPA, it will pay for the electricity it uses. BP Solar will make, install, own and maintain the systems."
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"Wal-Mart aims to buy the green power at prices equal to or less than traditional energy. The chain already has reaped a "moderate savings" with the initial projects…Each store gets 20% to 30% of its power from solar…
"The project is part of an aggressive environmental campaign Wal-Mart unveiled in 2005…[A] bevy of retailers that announced solar projects the last two years, including Target, Macy's and Whole Foods. Most signed PPAs, which have exploded in recent years because they let large businesses buy solar energy without huge upfront costs or, more significantly, the hassles of maintaining systems. The set-ups comprise the bulk of the large commercial solar market…"
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"Wal-Mart likely would have to spend more than $2 million per store if it purchased the solar setups, says Jigar Shah, a consultant and founder of SunEdison, the top solar services company…
"Some say the PPA market has slowed recently along with the economy…[and] natural gas [prices] have plunged, stabilizing utility electric rates. But…Wal-Mart, for instance, recognizes electricity rates are bound to rise in coming years…while solar prices are stable…"