BJ's Wholesale Club Unveils Solar Energy System

NATICK, Mass. -- BJ's Wholesale Club here recently unveiled the solar energy system that the retailer has installed on the rooftop of its Saratoga, N.Y. location. Launched last spring, the system, which employs solar panels from Evergreen Solar, Inc., a Marlborough, Mass.-based developer, manufacturer, and marketer of solar power products using the company's proprietary low-cost manufacturing technologies, is BJ's largest North American solar installation.

"Member response has been enthusiastic and the system is operating smoothly," noted BJ's manager of energy Terry Civic in a statement. "Using clean, renewable energy to help control our utility costs is definitely a winning combination, especially in light of the sharp increase in utility rates."

The 80,000-square-foot 100-kilowatt system comprises 912 photovoltaic (PV) panels covering almost the entire roof of the building. Operating year-round, it should produce more than 100,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity yearly -- enough to power 13 average homes. The installation is also expected to offset the release of over 100,000 pounds of carbon dioxide and other harmful greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere each year. A permanent in-store display lets customers find out more about the solar power system.

The Saratoga project is just part of BJ's chainwide initiative to purchase energy from clean resources: The retailer currently has rooftop solar power plants in place on several Northeast stores, for which BJ's donates its roof space to Sun Power Electric, owner and installer of the power systems. BJ's additionally has signed a long-term agreement to buy the power, providing the stable income that permits project partners to obtain financing.

"While the residential market for solar power systems has been booming for years, we're seeing a sharp increase in commercial use," said Evergreen s.v.p. Dr. Terry Bailey. "Large-scale applications on commercial buildings further validate solar power as a viable energy solution in the U.S. and around the globe."

"BJ's was one of this nation's earliest adopters of commercial solar power systems," added Westborough, Mass.-based Conservation Services Group c.e.o. Stephen L. Cowell. "The use of their rooftops enables us to produce clean electricity efficiently, without having to use valuable land resources."

In other BJ's news, the retailer has become the worldwide exclusive carrier of Altaire, a French skin care line. Developed in Paris by Kelemata Group, one of the world's largest privately held beauty companies, Altaire offers six complementary vitamin-rich products, including Cream Cleanser, Firming Facial Toner, Repairing Night Cream, and Ageless Firming Serum. Prices range from $12.99 to $24.99. A smaller trial-sized package is also be available for sale to BJ's members as a way to introduce the new product line and regimen.

"A majority of our members are women who are busy taking care of the family while working full-time; with so little time, sometimes she's the last one on her list of people to take care of," said BJ's e.v.p. of merchandising Karen Stout in a statement. "Today we're offering her an upscale beauty regimen that is comparable to the very best luxury brands in the marketplace at an affordable price. Finally she can take advantage of fulfilling all of her beauty needs while shopping for the rest of the family."

BJ's currently operates 159 clubs and 86 gas stations in 16 states.
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