Costco's Solar Energy System Just the Start

ISSAQUAH, Wash. - Costco Wholesale Corp.'s installation of a solar-powered energy system at its Lake Elsinore, Calif. warehouse - its second such installation - is a preamble to the retailer's more expansive plans to use green technology.

"Like many [retailers], we are looking at different technologies," Craig Peal, Costco's a.v.p. and director of energy told Progressive Grocer. "We continue to expand our use of skylights for interior lighting, and new lamp technologies for interior and exterior lights.

"We plan on doing more solar projects with an emphasis right now on sites in California and Hawaii," Peal continued. "Costco is also conducting feasibility studies on wind turbines and how they might integrate into our facilities."

The new solar system at the Lake Elsinore club is expected to supply in excess of 725,000 kWh (AC) annually over an expected lifespan of 25 years, and the retailer expects to save more than $3.8 million in energy expenditures over that time period.

According to SunEdison, which installed the system, the clean energy produced by the solar units will eliminate an estimated 1,009,611 pounds of CO2 annually, which is the equivalent of planting 2,800 acres of trees over the 25 year life of the system.

Costco's first solar energy system went operational in Lancaster, Calif. approximately three months before the Lake Elsinore site, said Peal. "It's still pretty early in the program for both systems but to date the systems are performing well in terms of energy savings," he added. "Customer reaction in the local community was very positive at both sites."

Costco currently operates 504 warehouses, including 371 in the United States and Puerto Rico, 70 in Canada, 19 in the United Kingdom, five in Korea, four in Taiwan, five in Japan, and 30 in Mexico.
-- Joseph Tarnowski
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