Over the past two weeks, Environment America Research and Policy Center has circulated a sign-on letter urging Walmart to go solar to more than 1500 local elected officials across all 50 states and Washington, DC. This outreach is part of an ongoing initiative to urge Walmart to commit to installing solar on all viable roofs by 2035 as part of their commitment to 100% renewable energy. It's also an effort to educate local elected officials on the benefits that local rooftop solar can bring to their communities. Most of the local elected officials contacted represent communities with Walmart retail stores.
Walmart is the nation's largest retailer and possesses by far the largest solar potential. Walmart has around 5,000 stores in the US and more than 783 million square feet of rooftop space — an area larger than Manhattan — and more than 8,974 gigawatt hours of annual rooftop solar potential, according to Environment America Research & Policy Center's report Solar on Superstores. That's enough electricity to power more than 842,000 homes.
The wide, flat, unobstructed roofs and parking lots of Walmart and other big box stores are ideal for installing rooftop solar. In addition to the environmental benefits of renewable energy, installing solar panels on big box stores benefits communities directly—it cuts costs for consumers and, when paired with storage solutions, increases grid resiliency. Putting solar on superstores is a win for businesses, consumers, and the environment.
Elected officials who have signed on have described the initiative as “a great way for superstores to support our local community” (Brian Baer, councilmember from Milford, Delaware) and an “opportunity to utilize existing open space to conserve and reduce costs” (Gloria Hausser, councilmember from Nashville, Tennessee). Others who have voiced their support for the project reason that “we need to utilize all large rooftop spaces for the creation of solar energy” (Rebecca Villegas, councilmember from Kailua Kona, Hawaii), and “clean energy such as solar will help us save our planet” (Patrick Furey, mayor of Torrance, California).
Local elected officials have until July 21st to add their name to the letter and can do so here.