Smith's Food & Drug Stores, a division of the Kroger Co. (KR), announced that it has completed the installation of photovoltaic energy panels at two Albuquerque, New Mexico stores. The solar energy output from these two store systems is 320,000 kWh, eliminating the need for that amount of energy from fossil fuel sources. It is estimated this energy savings would heat and cool 30 homes in New Mexico for one year; is the equivalent of planting 57 acres of trees; or removing 40 cars from the road.
"We have done a lot of work over the last several years to integrate sustainable practices into our everyday business operations," said Rodney McMullen, president and chief operating officer of Kroger. "We are proud to unveil Kroger's first operational solar energy project. Smith's has done a tremendous job bringing this to realization. Kroger will continue reducing energy consumption and testing technologies that support future use of alternative energy sources."
Smith's was selected to be among the first Kroger division stores to install photovoltaic panels because of New Mexico's favorable sunny climate and the economic incentives offered by energy provider PNM towards installation of renewable energy sources. Affordable Solar, based in Albuquerque, designed and installed the panels. Kroger is also developing photovoltaic systems in stores located in Wilsonville, Oregon (Fred Meyer) and Cincinnati, Ohio (Kroger). Kroger is committed to making the world a better place through the execution of sustainability initiatives in four broad areas, including the environment, food and products, health and wellness of customers and associates, and community engagement.
In 2010, the company reached energy savings milestones including :
- Kroger stores reduced overall energy consumption by 30% since 2000. That's enough electricity to power every single-family home in Fort Worth, Texas for one year.
- Company-wide, including all facilities, Kroger has saved more than 2.2 billion kilowatt hours, which equals 1.41 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions. That equates to taking more than 275,000 cars off roads for one year.
The solar system on the roof of each Smith's store consists of 442 panels, each containing cells that convert sunlight into direct current (DC) electricity. The power is then fed into an inverter that converts the DC into the alternating current (AC) that is used in the store. The electricity is then synchronized with the utility grid, allowing the panels to offset utility power plant generation. Smith's has made a commitment to energy conservation within all of the company's 25 New Mexico stores, most recently having retrofitted walk-in coolers, dairy coolers, meat counters and grocery freezers with LED lighting systems that use 75% less energy than fluorescent bulbs, last longer, and are 100% recyclable. Smith's views these changes as having the most significant impact today on reducing energy costs.