Environment America launches effort to get Target to go solar

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Cecile Gernez

Target making inroads on solar power, but Environment America “expects more”

Environment Washington

Seattle, WA – Target has pledged to put solar panels on a quarter of its stores, but the company could cut pollution dramatically and even save its customers money by putting panels on all of its nearly 2,000 rooftops in North America, advocacy group, Environment Washington said today.

“Target has made progress on solar,” said Cecile Gernez, Solar Campaign Organizer with Environment Washington. “But, just like the ads say, we ‘expect more,’ especially when the company has so much potential to cut pollution, reduce energy waste, and save money.”

To launch its campaign to get Target to go big on solar, today Environment Washington, together with its national federation Environment America, released a new analysis of the nation’s 96,000 “big box” retailers, shopping centers, and grocery chains and their capacity for progress toward rooftop solar.

Target’s solar potential is second only behind competitor Walmart, which has already installed at least 142 MW of solar energy.

“Global climate change is a crisis we must face head on,” said State Representative Jessyn Farrell. “We need to get creative, and placing solar panels on top of big box stores is one great way to reduce our reliance on dirty fossil fuels.”

Using existing roof space on all of the nation’s big retail chain stores and shopping centers could nearly triple U.S. solar capacity, reducing climate-warming carbon pollution by 57 million metric tons annually – the same produced in a year by 12 million vehicles. In Washington, big box stores have the potential to offset over a million tons of carbon dioxide pollution by going solar.

According to the latest data available, summarized in the report, “Solar on America’s Superstores,” Walmart leads the pack in total solar panels already installed, followed by Costco, Kohl’s, and IKEA.

The Target chain has 240 million square feet of roof space suitable for solar in North America, the equivalent of 4,000 football fields.

“As a college student, Target is a place that is very helpful when I need groceries or dorm supplies,” said Jeff Vinson, a local target customer. “Climate change worries me, and I would be happier shopping at Target if I knew they were doing something to address climate change. I think more people my age would choose to shop at Target if they made a commitment to put solar power on all their stores.”

Rooftop solar on big box stores like Target is good for the environment, good for electricity consumers, and good for business, the report says.

Electricity produced by rooftop panels on all the big box stores and shopping centers analyzed in today’s report could offset enough electricity to save these businesses $8.2 billion annually on their electricity bills.

“Superstore roofs are perfect locations for solar panels. They are mostly flat and almost always fully exposed to the sun,” said Gernez. “We found 4 billion square feet of empty roof space around the country that can and should be put to better use capturing pollution-free energy.”

Producing electricity on rooftops, close to where the electricity will be used, also reduces losses that happen during electricity transmission – losses which totaled 5 percent of electricity sales in 2012.

“Despite the clouds and rain we experience here in the Pacific Northwest, we can still be a leader in advancing solar power with the right mix of policies, incentives and companies willing to lead,” said Councilmember Mike O’Brien. “A company such as Target, with the significant amount of roof space they control, could really change the game around solar.”

State legislators are currently considering legislation that would extend the Washington State Renewable Cost Recovery Incentive Program. This program has effectively encouraged thousands of Washington State residents and businesses to invest in and install solar in their neighborhoods, creating local economic growth and jobs. If legislators don’t act, the program expires in 2020. The state House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed this solar jobs bill (HB 2346) tuesday night by a vote of 77-20.

“Solar incentive programs, like the one currently being considered by legislators (HB 2346), would help to expand commercial solar systems in Washington” Said Dave Kozin, CFO of A-R Solar. “Retailers can take advantage of large roof spaces to generate clean, renewable energy.”

“When we have the right programs and incentives in place to help people go solar, we are not just making it easier and more affordable to go green,” said Councilmember O’Brien, “we are also empowering people to have better control of their energy consumption and ultimately their bill.”


Environment Washington is a statewide advocacy organization bringing people together for a cleaner, greener, healthier future. www.EnvironmentWashington.org.