Posted on September 6, 2006

Whole Foods lights up with solar energy

Solar photovoltaic (PV) system is Connecticut's largest

Whole Foods Market Wednesday took the wraps off a new 121-kilowatt solar photovoltaic (PV) system installed on the rooftop of its distribution center in Cheshire, Conn.

"Whole Foods Market is committed to green power, and we are the only Fortune 500 company to offset 100 percent of its power usage in the United States and Canada with renewable energy choices,” Jennifer McDonnell, regional green mission specialist of Whole Foods Market, said.

“Green building, energy efficiency and clean energy programs – like the installation of the state’s largest PV system – at our Cheshire distribution center, are central to our core values of caring about our communities and being a leader in environmental stewardship," she said.

Covering about 10 percent of the 150,000-square-foot roof of the market’s building – about half the size of a football field – the solar PV installation is the largest in the state generating approximately 137,500 kilowatt hours of clean electricity per year and supplying 10 percent of the facility’s total energy needs.

The installation at Whole Foods Market, in fact, is five times the size of the next largest solar installation in Connecticut. When the system is operating at its "peak" capacity, it will generate enough power to light over 1,800 light bulbs, and over the course of one year, the system will provide enough energy to keep each of those light bulbs lit for 1,332 hours, or about 55 days around the clock.

Additionally, the clean energy that the system is expected to deliver will enable the avoidance of 65 tons of CO2 emissions each year.

The Whole Foods Market project was launched through the combined effort of three partners. The Connecticut Clean Energy Fund provided a project grant of $516,223 to support over half of the project’s cost.

The remaining system and project management costs were absorbed by SunEdison, a national solar electricity provider, which will own the equipment for at least ten years and sell "clean power" to Whole Foods during that time period.

For Whole Foods Market the SunEdison Solar Servicestm proposition was compelling; not only did the entire system come at no additional capital costs, but it will actually save them operating expenses on their energy bill immediately.

Whole Foods Market is serving as a local clean power advocate, having made the commitment to purchase all the "green" electricity from SunEdison to fulfill a portion of its energy needs.

It has also committed to work with local Connecticut middle and high schools to educate students about solar energy systems and their benefits. Students will be invited to visit the Whole Foods Market site, where they can view the rooftop solar panels and operate a kiosk that will display system data, like energy output.

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