Ohio elected officials sign national letter urging Walmart to install rooftop solar

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Johanna Neumann

Senior Director, Campaign for 100% Renewable Energy, Environment America

Ohio elected officials sign national letter urging Walmart to install rooftop solar

Citing reliability for overloaded grids, need for local clean energy, elected officials encourage retail giant to go solar

ATHENS, Ohio– Six elected officials from Ohio joined 57 others — representing nearly 9 million constituents  – signing a letter urging Walmart to install solar panels on all viable roofs and parking lots by 2035. Their reasoning: switching power sources from fossil fuels to renewable energy, including solar, will limit the carbon emissions that cause climate change, and big box stores have the roof space to generate solar power.

“The superstores have a mass area to put significantly-sized solar panels,” said Christine Knisely, Athens City Council President. “In Athens, this rooftop is totally exposed to the sun; [there are] no trees nearby.” 

The letter, addressed to Walmart CEO Doug McMillon, identifies rooftop solar as benefiting the environment, consumers and businesses including Walmart. It emphasizes the necessity of — and the opportunity provided by — public-private collaboration to reduce global warming emissions and transition to 100% clean energy sources, notably, solar.

“Walmart’s rooftops and parking lots are perfect places to generate clean, renewable energy,” said Johanna Neumann, senior director of Environment America Research & Policy Center’s campaign for 100% Renewable Energy.  Putting solar on Walmart roofs will not only power stores but also clean up the air and create an emergency power source for the surrounding community. That’s real efficiency, and a service to all — just the kind of innovation that a smart retailer such as Walmart has a history of embracing.”

A diverse mix of city council members, mayors, and state senators and state representatives from 23 states and the District of Columbia signed onto the letter, including six from Ohio.

According to Environment America Research and Policy Center’s report, Solar on Superstores, Walmart leads the nation’s retailers in rooftop solar potential. Walmart alone could generate approximately 8,974.4 gigawatt-hours of rooftop solar electricity each year. That’s enough to cleanly power 842,700 average American homes. 

Multiple elected officials signed the letter in several other states, including:

  • Texas (17)
  • Tennessee (6)
  • New York (4)
  • North Carolina (4 each).

Locally generated solar brings myriad direct benefits to communities. These benefits include reduced emissions, grid resiliency, and lower energy costs for consumers as less energy is lost in transport. 

Walmart is the largest retailer in the United States, and 90 percent of Americans live within 10 miles of one of its locations. Through 2019, the company was the nation’s second-largest business installer of on-site solar panels, just behind Target. A commitment to put solar panels on nearly all of its stores, distribution centers and accompanying parking lots by 2035 would position Walmart as a national corporate leader in transitioning to renewable energy.

The letter from local elected officials follows in the wake of more than 150 organizations calling on Walmart to go big on solar last year. 

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