REI Commits to Solar Energy to Reduce Climate Impact
REI, the $2 billion national outdoor retailer, is committed to renewable energy. The company has 26 locations with solar power systems in eight states (Arizona, California, Colorado, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Georgia). The locations with solar rooftop power systems include retail stores and a distribution center in Bedford, Penn. REI began installing solar panels on certain stores in 2008 after Davis, Calif.-based Blue Oak Energy conducted a three-year feasibility survey that found solar rooftop panels can provide 10 to 100 percent of a storeâ€™s electricity.
Sharon Im-Lee, energy manager at REI, Seattle, toldInteriors & Sources that stores with high energy costs were a good fit for solar, including those located in California, which has higher energy rates. "Here in Seattle, our electricity costs are only 5 to 6 cents per kilowatt-hour; in California, weâ€™re seeing upwards of 17 to 20 cents per kilowatt-hour, so what youâ€™re offsetting is dramatically more in California," said Im-Lee.
REI also buys renewable energy certificates (RECs). The REC purchases are equal to powering more than 130 stores, two distribution centers and its headquarters. Its annual purchase of RECs are equivalent to removing almost 8,000 cars from the road or switching over 990,000 incandescent bulbs to compact fluorescents. REI purchases RECs from San Francisco-based 3Degrees, which was named Best Trading Company for RECs in North America by Environmental Finance in its 14th annual market rankings.
"We intend to generate enough local renewable energy for our total electricity needs, but until then, RECs will be an important part of our energy strategy," stated Kirk Myers, corporate social responsibility manager at REI, in a news release.
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REI image via Shutterstock.