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Social Responsibility

Solar Powers Retail

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Walmart tops a whole bunch of retail lists, including one released last month that identifies major commercial solar projects and ranks America’s top corporate solar users. The annual Solar Means Business Report, compiled by the Solar Energy Industries Association and Vote Solar, found that with 89 megawatts installed at 215 locations, Walmart is America’s commercial solar leader for the second year in a row.

Other retail companies included in the Top 25 list include Kohl’s, Apple, Macy’s, Bed Bath & Beyond, Walgreen, Safeway and Toys “R” Us. According to Rhone Resch, president and CEO of SEIA, the 25 companies on the list have deployed 445 combined megawatts of solar capacity -- a 48 percent increase in one year. Collectively, he believes they are playing an increasingly important role in the development, expansion and promotion of solar nationwide while also reducing their operating expenses, benefiting customers and shareholders alike.

Resch, who recently penned a blog post for Huff Post Business, notes that solar growth among these Fortune 100 companies reflects the growth in the U.S. commercial solar sector as a whole. In the first half of 2013, cumulative commercial solar deployment totaled 3,380 megawatts at 32,800 facilities throughout the country -- a whopping 40 percent increase from last year. He cites two standouts in the group -- Apple and Walmart.

“Apple’s massive solar farm and fuel cell facility in Maiden, N.C., is now providing clean energy for its $1 billion, 500,000 sq.-ft. data center,” he says. Walmart recently announced that it would expand construction of clean-energy projects six-fold nationwide, which, Resch says, puts it “on a clear path” to becoming “100 percent supplied by renewable energy by 2020.”

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