schwartzenegger-tours-solar-roof.jpgWal-Mart offered sunny news yesterday for the California renewable energy market.

The store chain announced for Earth Day that it will double the size of its solar-power initiative in the next 18 months by putting rooftop solar arrays on 10 to 20 stores and distribution centers in California. Earlier this month solar setups neared completion atop 18 Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club stores and two warehouses in California and Hawaii to provide 20 to 30 percent of each location’s total electric energy needs.

Gov. Arnold  took a tour of one rooftop solar installation at the Glendora Sam’s Club. Corporate projects like this are key to helping California attain its goal of getting 33% of its power from renewable resources by 2020.

“All over the state we are harnessing the power of the famous California sun and creating energy that is pollution free,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. “This project is all about taking bold action so we can see solar panels on commercial rooftops all across California while putting people to work. Today’s action helps prove that even in an economic downturn, it is possible to get serious about clean, renewable energy.”

This latest series of projects is expected to create about 130 jobs, including engineering, design, and installer technician jobs. Smaller numbers of workers will be engaged during the periods leading up to and following peak construction.

Wal-Mart announced in November 2008 a major purchase of wind energy that will supply up to 15 percent of the retailer’s total energy load in approximately 350 Texas stores and other facilities. In Puerto Rico, the company is planning to outfit up to five stores with solar panels this year, and expects the project to expand to 22 stores in the next five years. Additionally, Wal-Mart de Mexico will eliminate approximately 140 tons of CO2 emissions annually through the completed installation of more than 1000 solar panels on the roof of the Bodega Aurrera Aguascalientes.

The West Coast solar installations will generate enough clean energy to power the equivalent of 2,600 homes and avoid 22,500 metric tons of carbon-dioxide emissions each year — tantamount to taking about 4,000 cars off the road.

“Increasing the use of solar energy is the right thing to do for the environment and makes tremendous business sense, especially in these economic conditions,” Kimberly Sentovich, Wal-Mart’s California regional general manager, said in a statement.

(More info at USA Today)

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