Walmart in solar 'garden' deal


Walmart is growing a new type of garden as it continues to expand its commitment to renewable energy.

The discount giant announced that it has reached an agreement with US Solar to subscribe to 36 of US Solar's community “solar gardens” located throughout the state of Minnesota. (Community solar gardens are centrally-located solar photovoltaic systems that provide electricity to participating subscribers.)

The 36 one-megawatt (MW) gardens will generate clean, renewable energy and provide energy savings to Walmart locations in 13 separate counties. The first installations have have completed construction, with remainder  targeted to be online by the first half of 2020.

Community solar in Minnesota allows businesses, public entities, and residents to subscribe to an offsite solar garden without having to site solar directly on their property, thereby enabling subscribers to reduce their retail electricity costs while also supporting clean, local energy.  Subscribers receive energy savings in the form of a bill credit on their retail electric bill based on the amount of energy produced each month by their subscribed portion of the solar gardens.

The bill credits that Walmart will receive are based on Minnesota's Value of Solar methodology, which takes into consideration the value of the solar energy delivered to the utility by the community solar gardens, as well as other grid and environmental benefits.

“Solar is a vital component of Walmart's expanding renewable energy portfolio," said Mark Vanderhelm, VP of energy for Walmart Inc. "Walmart plans to tirelessly pursue renewable energy projects that are right for our customers, our business and the environment. This community solar gardens initiative with US Solar is moving us in the right direction toward our renewable energy goals."