The largest retailer has planned to join solar faction in Illinois next year.
An agreement of Walmart with California Company to install solar systems at two of its distribution centers and 19 stores, which include Belleville, O’Fallon, Sparta and Litchfield. It’s a way to save money on electricity and help the environment by reducing carbon emissions.
This progress was initiated by the state’s new adjustable block Program, to provide incentives to commercial and residential rooftop solar projects, as well as community solar farms.
“We can meet or beat our current cost of energy”, said Katherine Canoy, Walmart’s senior manager for renewable energy, speaking by phone from Bentonville, Arkansas. “From a business perspective, it makes sense for us on a lot of levels.”
The company already has solar systems at 350 of its 5,000 sites in United States. It also includes Walmart and Sam’s Club stores. Canoy said “installations don’t have a direct effect on prices, but the company’s increasing use of wind and solar energy will help keep them low in the long run.”
For Walmart’s first 21 solar projects in Illinois, the retailer is partnering with SunPower, a company based in San Jose of California. This company designs, installs and maintains commercial solar systems all over the country, often with a combination of rooftop and ground-mounted solar panels.
“Most customers are able to generate 40 to 75 percent of their electricity with solar”, said Robert Rogan, SunPower’s senior director of strategy. Walmart generates 5 to 70 percent at its existing solar sites.
“It really varies from store to store, depending on how much of the roof space we can utilize and also how much energy that store is using,” Rogan said.
Some Walmart stores have skylights and air-conditioning units on their roofs, and climate can affect how much electricity is needed to heat and cool buildings.
Vendors to hire Laborers and electricians
Walmart’s first 21 solar systems in Illinois will have a capacity of 23MW in comparison to the 5 KW capacities of many home systems.
SunPower would install, maintain and own the solar panels with the other equipments. Selling electricity to Walmart through a power-purchase agreement with the fixed price for 15 years, Canoy said. Walmart will get to sell the renewable energy credits.
“This allow Walmart to buy power at competitive prices and hedge against future utility rate increases with no upfront capital costs,” According to press release.
“If the IPA approves the Walmart solar projects, SunPower still has got to get the permits for installation and follow other city or country rules and regulations. The company plans to work with local contractors, who will hire some laborers and electricians,” said Rogan.
Typically, this sort of installations would consume less than six months of time, he said. So most of the work should be set by the end of 2019.
Walmart began installing solar panels on stores in 2007, first in California and later in Hawaii and Arizona. Today, the company has solar systems at about 350 sites in 18 states.
“We’re always excited when we can do it in a new market,” Canoy said.
Goal is 50 percent renewable by 2025
Two years ago, Walmart had set a goal of powering 50 percent of its global operations with renewable energy by 2025. The company operates more than 12,000 stores in 28 countries including 5,000 in the United States. Walmart expects to save money with the transition to renewable. “It is also right thing to do,” Canoy said.
Walmart and SunPower estimate the annual “carbon offset” resulting from the 21 Illinois projects will be equal to the amount of carbon sequestered by more than 24,000 acres of forest, using the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency greenhouse gas equivalencies calculator.
Other Walmart stores and distribution centers to go solar next year in Illinois are Benton, Dixon, Galesburg, Jacksonville, Kewanee, Macomb, Marion, Mattoon, Morton, Murphysboro, Pekin, Peoria, Robinson, Spring Valley, Sterling, plus two in Decatur.
Canoy said “The company plans to include more Illinois sites in its solar expansion, working with different vendor, but official aren’t ready to announce which ones.”
When selecting the candidates, Walmart has variety of criteria. The stores can’t have any immediate plans of expansion or relocation. Building should be owned, not leased, and have new roofs.
“Illinois has created a fantastic state to invest in solar,” Canoy said.