Kroger Unveils Its First Solar Energy Systems

The Kroger Co. has completed the installation of solar energy panels at two of its Smith’s Food & Drug Stores in Albuquerque, N.M.

These two store systems generate 320,000 kWh, eliminating the need for that amount of energy from fossil fuel sources. Kroger estimates this energy savings would heat and cool 30 homes in New Mexico for one year and is the equivalent of planting 57 acres of trees or removing 40 cars from the road.

“We have done a lot of work over the last several years to integrate sustainable practices into our everyday business operations,” said Rodney McMullen, Kroger’s president and COO. “Today, we are proud to unveil Kroger’s first operational solar energy project. Smith’s has done a tremendous job bringing this to realization. Kroger will continue reducing energy consumption and testing technologies that support future use of alternative energy sources.”

Smith’s was selected to be among the first Kroger division stores to install solar panels because of New Mexico’s sunny climate and the economic incentives offered by energy provider PNM towards installation of renewable energy sources. Affordable Solar, based in Albuquerque, designed and installed the panels. Kroger is also developing solar systems for stores in Wilsonville, Ore. (Fred Meyer), and Cincinnati (Kroger).

In 2010, the company reached energy savings milestones including reducing its overall energy consumption by 30 percent since 2000. Company-wide, including all facilities, Kroger has saved more than 2.2 billion kilowatt hours, which equals 1.41 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

The solar system on the roof of each Smith’s store consists of 442 panels, each containing cells that convert sunlight into direct current electricity. The power is fed into an inverter that converts the DC into the alternating current that is used in the store. The electricity is then synchronized with the utility grid, allowing the panels to offset utility power plant generation.

Smith’s has made a commitment to energy conservation within all of the company’s 25 New Mexico stores, most recently having retrofitted walk-in coolers, dairy coolers, meat counters and grocery freezers with LED lighting systems that use 75 percent less energy than fluorescent bulbs, last longer and are recyclable.

Cincinnati-based Kroger operates 2,449 supermarkets and multidepartment stores in 31 states under two dozen local banner names including Kroger, City Market, Dillons, Jay C, Food 4 Less, Fred Meyer, Fry’s, King Soopers, QFC, Ralphs and Smith’s.

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