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

For Immediate Release

For more information: Katie Otterbeck, Katie@environmentcolorado.org, 239-434-7275

Colorado Springs, CO - 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 Colorado said today.

“Target has made progress on solar,” said Katie Otterbeck, Solar energy advocate with Environment Colorado. “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 the group, 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 and 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, enough to power about 348 of its stores.

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. Target has 41 stores in Colorado alone.

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

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. Colorado has a total of 140 million square feet in big box store rooftop space, with an annual potential solar power generation on big box stores equivalent to the power consumed by 156,000 households in Colorado.

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.

Rooftop solar is also good for business. Electricity produced by rooftop panels on all the big box stores and shopping centers in Colorado could offset enough electricity to save these businesses $168 million annually on their electricity bills.

Local business owner John Crandall said “solar power has been good for my business, and I applaud Target on their 25 percent commitment, but the chain should leave a positive legacy by committing to solar for all its stores”. Crandall’s prized local business, the Old Town Bike Shop, was the first to invest in solar panels in the springs.

In addition to calling directly on Target and other major retailers to install solar panels on their roofs, Environment Colorado urged the Denver city council, and other city councils in the state, to support policies that help facilitate rooftop solar on big box stores.

“Superstore roofs are perfect locations for solar panels. They are mostly flat and almost always fully exposed to the sun,” said Otterbeck. “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.”

###