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U.S. Retailers Save with Solar PV & Energy Efficiency

By Sara Parker
RenewableEnergyAccess.com
June 29, 2007


BJ's Wholesale, Estee Lauder, Kohls, Target, Tiffany & Co., Wal-Mart. From "big
box" discount giants to high-end jewelry retailers, solar energy has become big
business in 2007. The most recent retail-outfitter to become part of this trend
is Macy's, which announced earlier this month it will install solar power
systems on 26 stores throughout California.

Along with the PV systems, PowerLight is assisting Macy's with energy efficiency
upgrades at the 26 stores, including high-efficiency lighting and HVAC systems
and energy management systems. According to the company, combining solar power
with efficiency will allow Macy's to achieve an estimated 40% reduction in
utility-provided energy, almost doubling the impact of the solar power alone.
The trend is welcomed news for U.S. solar manufacturers like SunPower Corp., a
Silicon Valley-based manufacturer of high-efficiency solar cells, solar panels
and solar systems. The company's subsidiary, PowerLight, is under contract to
install photovoltaic systems atop the 26 Macy's stores—as well as systems
totaling 4.6 megawatts on seven Wal-Mart stores in California.

Building on the momentum of these contracts, SunPower recently announced that
the largest investment bank in the U.S., Morgan Stanley has agreed to own—and
finance—the solar PV systems that the company is planning to deploy on the
Wal-Mart facilities.

The financing agreement was secured under the SunPower Access program, which
allows customers to purchase solar-generated electricity from a SunPower
financing partner as an alternative to outright purchase of the solar power
systems themselves.

"Leading companies like Wal-Mart are turning to solar power because it makes
good business sense and supports their environmental initiatives," said Tom
Werner, chief executive officer of SunPower. "Our SunPower Access program makes
going solar even simpler and more cost effective for customers who prefer the
option of a power purchase agreement."

SunPower arranges the solar power system's financing and sells the system to the
SunPower financing partner, in addition to designing, deploying and maintaining
the system to the customer's requirements. The customer pays the financing
partner for the solar electricity generated over a long-term power purchase agreement.

At the end of the term specified under the agreement, the customer typically has
the option to renew the agreement, transfer the equipment to a new site, or
purchase the system outright from the financing partner.

Energy Efficiency Joins the Mix

It's not just renewable energy however that has corporations seeing green in
terms of dollar savings and environmental benefits. Energy efficiency upgrades
are becoming increasingly popular with retailers as they move toward green
friendly business operations.

Along with the PV systems, PowerLight is assisting Macy's with energy efficiency
upgrades at the 26 stores, including high-efficiency lighting and HVAC systems
and energy management systems. According to the company, combining solar power
with efficiency will allow Macy's to achieve an estimated 40% reduction in
utility-provided energy, almost doubling the impact of the solar power alone.
"By combining energy efficiency with solar power, Macy's is taking the extra
step to cut our peak load demand," said Macy's, Inc. Vice-Chair Tom Cole.
Tiffany & Co., with its trademark blue box and pricey diamonds, is already
reaping the benefits of solar and energy efficiency with the dedication of one
of the East Coast's largest commercial solar projects earlier this year.
Tiffany's has deployed 1.3 megawatts of solar energy at the company's retail
distribution centers in Whippany (680 kilowatts) and Parsippany (656 kilowatts), New Jersey.

Comprised of 6,394 solar panels and covering 104,000 square feet, Tiffany's new
solar arrays will supply on average approximately 30 percent of Tiffany's
distribution centers' electrical load at peak demand times. Additionally,
lighting upgrades that reduce electrical use and improve lighting quality will
help achieve an overall estimated annual project value of more than $500,000 in savings.

 

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