Verizon, Wal-Mart, Apple, Kohl’s, Google, UPS, GM, IKEA: these are just some of the American corporations utilizing solar power now. You may have noticed some of them are America’s most mainstream companies. Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet used to be a common advertising slogan. Chevy was and is a mainstream American brand.
In June, it was reported that GM planned to install three acres of solar panels in Michigan. Last year, GM had 1.8 MW of solar installed at a Toledo plant.
Kohl’s has even more solar power. This retail chain has 156 locations with solar, over 380 LEED certified buildings and over seventy EV charging stations. Wal-Mart is the largest commercial owner of solar, but this fact might be slightly misleading because Wal-Mart is also such a large company. Even if it gets a tiny percentage of its electricity from solar, that total amount might be huge compared to smaller companies’ clean energy technology.
Verizon has invested almost $140 million in renewable energy, “By almost doubling the amount of renewable, solar energy we’re using, we are making further progress toward Verizon’s goal of cutting our carbon intensity in half by 2020, in part, by leveraging the proven business case for clean-energy alternatives to the commercial power grid,” explained James Gowen, Verizon’s chief sustainability officer.
Last year, the Motley Fool wrote that Wal-Mart had some solar power at 200 of its 4500 stores. Two hundred stores sounds impressive, but it is less than 5%, meaning that about 95% of Wal-Mart stores did not have solar power. Still, solar power has been attractive enough for even his mainstream retail giant to invest in it. Wal-Mart’s green activities might get more press, but IKEA’s percentage of locations with solar power was well over 80% in 2013. Obviously, 80-90% is much greater than 4-5% but Wal-Mart still gets credit as a leader in solar power sometimes.
“There has to be a rational business decision with a decent payback. Any business with access to capital has a choice of where to invest. Of course, you can invest in growth of business, and we do that, but we also look at what delivers long-term energy security, a macro hedge on energy price rises and addresses carbon. IKEA also has a long-term business philosophy, where we own most of our stores, our factories, and the land they are built on. We have the capital, so why would we rent? It’s the same with energy – if we can own our own energy production why would we not want to do it?”, said an IKEA executive.
It has been demonstrated by a number of mainstream American corporations that investing in clean energy can save money. In fact, about one billion dollars a year has been. So, will solar power become as American as hot dogs and apple pie?