The mother of all big box retailers, Walmart, made it on the EPA’s National Top 50 Green Power Purchasers list. With a long-term goal of having 100 percent of its power supplied by renewable energy, Walmart is installing solar panels on 10 to 20 stores and distribution centers in California by 2011. In April, the company finished installing solar panels on 18 Walmart and Sam’s Club stores in California and Hawaii. Each solar project will create enough energy to power the equivalent of 2,600 homes.
Walmart does not own its solar projects, but has a 10-year power purchase agreement (PPA) to pay for the energy it uses. BP Solar produces, installs, owns and maintains the solar power systems. Larry Sherwood of the Interstate Renewable Energy Council said PPAs make up most of the large commercial solar energy market.
“It really allows BP Solar to do what they do best, and it allows us just to focus on (store operation) and energy procurement,” said David Ozment, Walmart’s energy director.
Walmart established a four-year wind-power purchase agreement for its 350 stores and facilities in Texas. A wind farm in Notress, Texas will supply up to 15 percent of the electricity needs for the state’s Walmart stores and facilities. Duke Energy owns the wind farm which has a 90.4 megawatt capacity, and can produce about 226 million kilowatt hours of energy a year.
“We’re purchasing renewable power at traditional energy rates,” said Kim Saylors-Laster, vice president of energy for Walmart. “The wind power purchase will result in a significant decrease of greenhouse gas emissions and aligns perfectly with Walmart’s long-term goal of being supplied by 100 percent renewable energy.”
“Walmart’s action shows that low-carbon technology is increasingly competitive and long-term sustainability is a winning business strategy,” said Andrew Aulisi, director of the markets & enterprise program at the World Resources Institute. “Walmart’s smart and innovative approach should be used more widely.”
Walmart announced this summer that SunEdison will put solar systems on the rooftops of five stores in Puerto Rico, and possibly on 23 stores over five years. The first store to be powered by solar energy will be the Walmart Supercenter Caguas, with construction on the 895-kilowatt system scheduled to begin before this year ends. Each solar system will provide about 25 to 35 percent of a store’s energy needs. As with solar systems in California and Hawaii, Walmart has a PPA with SunEdison.
Renzo Casillo, president & CEO of Walmart Puerto Rico said, “We are transforming every aspect of our operation, and that includes energy consumption. With this solar energy project we’ll continue to broaden our efforts towards our main objective and commitment of being supplied 100 percent by renewable energy.”
SunEdison COO Carlos Domenech said, “Our collaboration in Puerto Rico will provide a long-term financial return on Walmart’s investment in energy. The project also brings the solar industry to Puerto Rico with well-paying jobs for the island on top of the reduction of greenhouse gases to improve the environment.”