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Wal-Mart tapping first solar electric store   

Chino, Calif. – With the installation of a 390-kilowatt solar power system at its Sam’s Club here, Wal-Mart Stores has completed the first of what it said will be about 22 solar electric systems on Wal-Marts, Sam’s and distribution centers in California and Hawaii.

The solar power unit at the Chino Sam’s Club is expected to achieve savings over current utility rates “as soon as the first day of operation,” according to Wal-Mart and the manufacturer, San-Jose, Calif.-based SunPower Corp., from which Wal-Mart is purchasing a total of 4.6 megawatts worth of solar electric systems for seven locations.

The solar installation also will cut Wal-Mart’s carbon footprint, or greenhouse gas output, and is financed by deferred capital expenditure.

"Wal-Mart's SunPower solar power systems are financed through our SunPower Access program, which is a power purchase agreement that allows our customers to take advantage of the environmental and financial benefits of solar power with no upfront capital costs,” said Tom Werner, ceo of SunPower. “The solar electricity will be competitively priced against retail rates, providing Wal-Mart with a long-term hedge against rising peak power prices."

"Wal-Mart is moving forward with its commitment to conserve energy, reduce energy costs and lower greenhouse gas emissions -- and this project is a step in the right direction,” said Kim Saylors-Laster, vp of energy, Wal-Mart.

The SunPower solar panels setups, which the company said are “50% more efficient than conventional solar panels,” are projected to provide up to 30% of the total electric power for the store on which they are installed.

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