Wal-Mart Goes Solar
In a recent press release, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. announced plans to install solar panels at its Massachusetts-based stores, and that it had already begun acting on plans to install solar panels at its other stores in other states, including California. Wal-Mart officials estimate that the panels will generate between 10-to-15 percent of each store's energy needs.
Wal-Mart’s move is the latest example of a trend among developers and retailers to capitalize on the two-fold benefits of “going solar”: the branding benefit of green retailing and the more tangible tax and other benefits available for solar technologies. As noted in our January blog post, developers that install energy efficient equipment, such as solar panels, may offset a portion of the costs with tax benefits. And in our June blog post , we discussed how owners and managers of large retail facilities that generate their own energy on-site from renewable energy sources (including solar) can reduce their utility bills through use of “net metering” and contributing excess power back into the electric grid. However, Wal-Mart’s announcement reminds us that, for the retail industry, the branding benefits of going green may be an equally powerful factor in the move to solar technology.
With federal tax benefits, state regulations and market conditions lining up with the marketing strategy of the retail industry, we may be seeing a new dawn of solar technology for retailers who can harness the full benefit of green technology.