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Whole Foods Introduces Solar Power Lighting at Its Berkeley Store

EMERYVILLE, Calif. - Whole Foods Market Inc., the world's largest natural and organic supermarket, is introducing solar energy as the primary lighting source at its store in Berkeley, Calif.

Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods Market brought together Princeton Energy Systems, PowerLight Corporation -- which manufactures commercial-scale solar electric products, and Nextek Power Systems to create a 33kW solar electric system to power the Berkeley store's fluorescent lighting. The solar array, composed of PowerLight's PowerGuard tiles covering 2,860 square feet on the store's roof, turns the sun's free energy into usable power while increasing building thermal insulation and extending the life of the roof. These solar tiles are electrically interconnected to Nextek power modules, which feed high-quality DC power to the store's newly retrofitted advanced DC lighting system. This innovative solar electric and lighting system maximizes the usable solar energy produced by the photovoltaic panels and increases the efficiency of power conversion.

"As a company actively looking for ways to help preserve our planet's natural resources, natural solar powered lighting systems made sense both from an economic and an environmental standpoint," said Ron Megahan, regional president of Whole Foods Market. "Most importantly, this initiative is helping us to further our corporate mission of preserving the environment by promoting clean energy. We are looking forward to sharing this technology with other stores throughout the country as we continue to strive to find energy from renewable clean sources."

Some of the system's primary benefits, according to the company, include:

-- Produce and save more than one million kilowatt hours over 25 years

-- Results in more than 1,060 tons of CO2 emissions avoided, the equivalent of removing 285 cars from the roadways.
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