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Monday, April 27, 2009

Guest Blog Post: Wal-Mart Stores, Inc

Kim Saylors-Laster is Vice President of Energy at Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. Kim joined Wal-Mart in 1994 and is currently responsible for all of the electricity and natural gas procurement within the United States, as well as providing guidance to energy markets within Wal-Mart's International trade areas. Additionally, Kim is an executive champion of a number of renewable energy causes within the Wal-Mart Sustainability Network.

A few weeks ago, I received, through the World Resources Institute Green Power Market Development Group, photos of BT’s recently completed solar project at its company headquarters in El Segundo, California. Though I had only briefly visited with the BT team previously at WRI Green Power Group meetings, I immediately emailed Kevin to congratulate the BT team on the completion of the impressive solar project and to see if there were any key learnings that could be shared with Wal-Mart to help us as we investigate the feasibility of solar shaded parking lot structures for our Wal-Mart Stores and Sam’s Clubs.

Wal-Mart is always looking for new and innovative ideas for incorporating more renewable energy into our operations, and despite the current economic conditions, we remain committed to accelerating and broadening our sustainability efforts. One of Wal-Mart’s long-term company-wide goals is to be supplied by 100 percent renewable energy at our operations around the world. We believe doing so will make Wal-Mart a stronger company and a better neighbor, today and in the future.

Though we have not yet tested a solar shading parking lot system, we are using solar energy at 20 facilities in California and Hawaii. When fully implemented, we estimate the total solar power production from these sites could be between 16 million to 18 million kilowatt-hours per year and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 7,000 to 8,000 metric tons annually. Each solar power system installed is expected to provide up to 20 to 30 percent of the power for the store and clubs on which it is installed. We have been encouraged by the results of this pilot program and are hoping to expand it over the next few years.

We are also excited about opportunities to purchase renewable wind energy. Last November, we announced a deal with Duke Energy on a major purchase of wind power that is expected to provide up to 15 percent of Wal-Mart’s total energy load in approximately 350 Texas stores, clubs and distribution centers. That’s equivalent to the annual usage of more than 20,000 average American homes.

In addition to increasing our energy efficiency, Wal-Mart’s energy department is helping our suppliers improve the energy efficiency of their facilities through the Supplier Energy Efficiency Project (SEEP). Wal-Mart representatives visit supplier manufacturing, distribution and administrative offices to provide professionally engineered solutions for lighting, heating and air conditioning appropriate for each building. SEEP customers may expect potential savings of between 15 to 50 percent on their future electric bills.

Like BT’s efforts, Wal-Mart’s ongoing commitment to renewable energy projects such as these helps us build a more diversified energy portfolio. The research and innovations this effort inspires creates even more opportunities for advancements in clean energy. Wal-Mart will continue to use the results of our own renewable energy projects, and innovative projects such as BT’s solar installation at its corporate headquarters, to adopt additional solutions to achieving our goal of being supplied by 100 percent renewable energy.

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