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Wal-Mart Announces Solar Power Pilot Project

Today Wal-Mart Stores, Inc, announced a major purchase of solar power from three solar power providers, BP Solar, SunEdison LLC, and PowerLight, a subsidiary of SunPower Corporation, for 22 combined Wal-Mart stores, Sam's Clubs and a distribution center in Hawaii and California. As part of a pilot project to determine solar power viability for Wal-Mart, the total solar power production from the 22 sites is estimated to be as much as 20 million kWh (kilowatt- hours) per year. When fully implemented, the aggregate purchase could be one of the U.S., if not the world's, top-10 largest ever solar power initiatives.

"We are taking aggressive steps towards our goal of being supplied by 100 percent renewable energy," said Kim Saylors-Laster, vice president of energy for Wal-Mart. "The pilot project is yet another example of Wal-Mart's commitment to making decisions that are good for business and the environment."

"We applaud Wal-Mart's drive to increase its use of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and look forward to the long-term positive impact their efforts will have on our environment," said Ron Judkoff, director of the Buildings and Thermal Systems Center at the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). "Wal-Mart's decision to take advantage of the economic and environmental benefits of solar power and energy efficiency technologies is a great step in the right direction."

The solar power pilot project is a major step toward Wal-Mart's goal of being supplied by 100 percent renewable energy. Each solar power generating system installed can provide up to 30 percent of the power for the store on which it is installed. By Wal-Mart's estimates, installing the solar power systems will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 6,500-10,000 metric tons per year. "Pilot project stores are expected to achieve savings over their current utility rates immediately-as soon as the first day of operation," said David Ozment, director of energy for Wal-Mart.

"As a global business leader, Wal-Mart has chosen to generate clean, renewable solar power at its facilities because it makes good business sense and supports the company's environmental initiatives," said Tom Werner, chief executive officer of SunPower. "SunPower and our PowerLight subsidiary are committed to making solar an affordable, simple choice for businesses. We are very pleased to partner with Wal-Mart on this initiative."

"Wal-Mart has demonstrated a true commitment to energy conservation, reduction of energy costs, and lowering greenhouse gas emissions," said Jigar Shah, chief executive officer of SunEdison. "We look forward to moving ahead with the project and working with Wal-Mart to determine how to best reach their renewable energy goals. These simplified solar-powered energy services will enable Wal-Mart to realize that environmental conservation can be enjoyed in accordance with the benefits of reduced as well as predictable long term energy pricing."

SunEdison will provide the four solar power systems in Hawaii and four in California, while PowerLight and BP Solar will each supply seven systems in California. The systems installations are subject to receiving the appropriate permits and approvals in their respective states. Wal-Mart will use the power generated by the solar panels onsite at each store and will also keep the Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) the units produce, which is unique among most solar power purchases. Enabling Wal-Mart to maintain ownership of the RECs and its stores' environmental benefits is another important factor in allowing Wal-Mart to reach its goal of being supplied by 100 percent renewable energy.

BP Solar agrees Wal-Mart's pilot project is a move in the right direction for business and environment. "We're delighted Wal-Mart has decided to move forward with these solar power installations and believe the company will soon see significant reductions in its electric bills and help lower greenhouse gas emissions," said Lee Edwards, chief executive officer of BP Solar. "By working together, companies like BP and Wal-Mart help make solar more affordable for everyone."

Wal-Mart is currently testing renewable energy technologies, such as wind and solar power generation, in its experimental stores in McKinney, Texas and Aurora, Colorado. Along with the learnings from these stores, the company will use the results of the pilot project and its solar power purchase to explore additional ways to achieve its renewable energy goals and determine how to move forward with solar power generation at additional Wal-Mart stores, Sam's Clubs, and distribution centers.

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