Wal-Mart to test store solar panels in Hawaii
The company will use four isle sites as part of the program
BENTONVILLE, Ark. » Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said yesterday it will use four sites in Hawaii as part of a two-state program to test the use of solar power at some of its stores.
The company did not detail the specific Hawaii locations or timetables for construction and implementation, pending the building permit process. However, "We plan to begin construction as soon as possible," said Kevin Thornton, a Wal-Mart spokesman.
Each solar energy unit, typically roof-mounted, will supply 30 percent of its store's needs initially, but if that capacity can be increased, it will be, Thornton said.
"That's part of the measurement we will do in this pilot project."
Additionally, the company will take results "from the four stores in Hawaii to determine if it is a viable option for other stores."
Wal-Mart is purchasing solar power equipment from BP Solar, SunEdison LLC and PowerLight, a subsidiary of SunPower Corp. The equipment will be installed in California and Hawaii in 22 locations, including Wal-Mart stores, Sam's Club warehouse stores and a distribution center.
The Hawaii systems will come from SunEdison, which has worked on other projects in Hawaii, including Hilo car dealerships Big Island Toyota and Big Island Suzuki.
Wal-Mart didn't announce how much it will spend on the venture.
"We are taking aggressive steps toward our goal of being supplied by 100 percent renewable energy," Wal-Mart's vice president for energy, Kim Saylors-Laster, said.
The world's largest retailer has been working in different ways to generate less waste and use less energy. The company has opened two Supercenters designed to use 20 percent less energy than other Supercenters. The stores use natural light whenever possible and employ energy-saving heating and cooling systems and construction materials.
The company has designed new stores with better insulation and more efficient lighting, is working with suppliers to reduce packaging and has pledged to improve the mileage of its truck fleet.
Star-Bulletin reporter Erika Engle, the Associated Press and Bloomberg News contributed to this story.