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Walmart, Costco among top solar-using companies

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(Read caption) An employee works on a solar panel production line at a solar company workshop in Yongkang, Zhejiang province in China in this February 2012 file photo. Walmart, Costco and Ikea have all invested heavily in solar power, according to OilPrice.com.

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A number of major US companies are taking energy into their own hands, harnessing solar power to cut costs and improve the bottom line. Iconic brands are now being equated with the power of the sun, and retail giants are leading the trend. 

A recent report published by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) shows that 42 companies have installed upwards of 320 megawatts of photovoltaic (PV) capacity at more than 750 locations across the US. The top 20 companies account for almost 280,000 kilowatts of solar-electricity generating capacity, which is about the capacity of a mid-sized natural gas power plant. This also translates into the generation of over $47 million in electricity every year and hundreds of millions in utility bill reductions for those businesses. Their capacity can power almost 50,000 average homes. The top 20 have installed more than 1.2 million solar panels. 

To put things into perspective, Walmart and Costco are said to have installed more solar capacity on their store rooftops than the entire state of Florida. Interestingly, retail giants have also installed more solar capacity that public utility companies. (RELATED: Iraq to Invest $500 Billion in Energy Sector)

It’s not just a fashionable trend. For these retail giants, it is cost-effective and sort of an electricity insurance policy against increasingly frequent blackouts. The size of these retail facilities mean that they already have to pay out enormous sums on roof repair, so solar panels makes sense. Retails roofs are now assets rather than liabilities. 

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