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Walmart plans solar for 60 more stores in California

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The new commitment will bring the total number of Walmart rooftops in California that are hosting solar technology to 130 by 2013.

Walmart’s solar power initiative will total more than 130 stores in California by the end of 2013.

Mega-retailer Walmart certainly isn't backing off on its commitment to solar technologies in the wake of the Solyndra debacle. The company said this week that it will install panels on up to 60 stores in the state of California, which means that 75 percent of its stores there would be part of its growing solar portfolio.

Certainly, the panels won't provide all of each store's total electricity needs, but 30 percent isn't such a bad number based on how much I have seen other commercial projects offset. The estimated solar capacity that Walmart will have in California after the latest batch of installations will be up to 70 million kilowatt-hours per year.

Notes Kim Saylors-Laster, the vice president of energy for Walmart:

"California presents a great opportunity for Walmart to make significant progress toward our sustainability goals by installing solar power on more than 1,300 rooftops throughout the state. Walmart has reduced energy expenses by more than a million dollars through our solar program, allowing us to pass these savings on to our customers in the form of every low prices."

Wow, Walmart is even playing the customer angle on this investment.

It's also got a jobs pitch: The installations at Walmart have helped create more than 500 new full-time jobs at the retailer's installation partner, SolarCity, and the new commitments are expected to create more. "Walmart is setting an example that far more companies in the U.S. can follow; it is possible for many businesses to pay less for solar power than they currently pay for electricity," said SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive.

Walmart has said it wants to be 100 percent supplied by renewable energy over time. This is another small step in that direction supported by direct investments in renewable technology, not simply by buying renewable energy credits like so many other companies still do.

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Heather Clancy

Section Editor

Heather Clancy has written for United Press International, ZDNet, Entrepreneur, Fortune Small Business, the International Herald Tribune and the New York Times. She holds a degree from McGill University. She is based in New Jersey. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure