News and analysis about energy in California with an eye toward renewables.

Walmart Solarizes 100th California Store

Rooftop Solar on a Santa Ana Walmart store | Photo: Walmart Stores/Flickr/Creative Commons License

Walmart's a controversial company, but there's one thing about the chain that its fans and detractors can readily agree on: it owns a lot of rooftop space. And in California, at least, those rooftops are being put to good use. Walmart announced today that it has now installed solar panels on 100 California stores, including Walmart and its subsidiary Sam's Club.

The 100th store, whose rooftop solar was unveiled this morning, is the company's Supercenter on College Avenue in San Diego near Lemon Grove. The panels were installed by the San Mateo-based solar leasing firm SolarCity, which maintains about 70 of Walmart's 100 California solar rooftops.

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According to SolarCity, its installations on Walmart roofs in California and Arizona have a total capacity of 23 megawatts. Walmart projects its total solar generation from California rooftops at around 70 million kilowatt hours per year -- enough to power more than 60,000 mid-sized window AC units for 6 hours a day.

Each rooftop installation is designed to provide between 10% and 30% of the store's total electrical power consumption. Walmart plans to equip 130 California stores with rooftop solar by the end of 2013, and has adopted a goal of 100% renewable use, though this goal presumably does not include the fuel needed to transport Walmart goods from overseas factories.

"Walmart does not just talk the talk, it walks the walk," Mary D. Nichols, Chair of the California Air Resources Board, said in a press release. "Walmart's work to expand and accelerate its solar power initiative program here in California demonstrates its commitment to sustainability. Walmart has helped create local jobs, reduce costs for its own operations, and protect the environment. We encourage other businesses to follow Walmart's lead."

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About the Author

Chris Clarke is a natural history writer and environmental journalist currently at work on a book about the Joshua tree. He lives in Joshua Tree.
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