|Gov. Fortuño speaks during a news conference at Walmart.
Nearly two years after announcing plans to harness solar power to cut down on its energy consumption, Walmart de Puerto Rico unveiled the first of several rooftop solar systems it plans to install throughout its local stores, in conjunction with Sun Edison LLC.
The first solar panel installation is already up and running at the Walmart Supercenter in Caguas, and will soon be extended to five other stores — including Sam’s Clubs — in Manatí, Caguas, Ponce, and Bayamón.
Under a 15-year solar power services agreement with Walmart, signed in July 2009, SunEdison agreed to finance, own, build and operate the photovoltaic solar energy systems atop each store. Construction on the first rooftop system at Walmart Supercenter Caguas reportedly began in late 2009. The rooftop system will generate more than 3 megawatts of energy, or about 25 percent to 35 percent of the power the store consumes.
The magnitude of the project, which SunEdison officials said “will be the largest renewable energy project ever developed on the island,” drew the participation of high-ranking government officials, lead by Gov. Luis Fortuño.
“Today we celebrate the cutting-edge efforts by Walmart, which has taken the initiative to promote a ‘green’ Puerto Rico, with the installation of a new photovoltaic solar [electric] system in five of its stores throughout the island,” said Fortuño, who has adopted clean energy as one of the cornerstones of his administrative platform.
“This initiative will result in lower energy costs, better environmental quality and will serve as a model that other companies may follow,” he said, during a morning news conference in Caguas.
Aside from lobbying for the construction of the Vía Verde natural gas pipeline project, the Fortuño administration recently approved the Puerto Rico Green Energy Fund to make it economically viable to develop projects through the use of renewable and alternative resources — such as water, sun, wind, landfill gas and others — by offering incentives such as tax credits, rebates and investment incentives. The fund should be available starting July 1, making $20 million available to offer investment reimbursements of as much as 60 percent to individuals and up to 50 percent to companies that install renewable energy equipment in their homes or businesses.