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Clean-Power Advocates Expect More from Target's Solar Plans

Solar power advocates are urging Minnesota retailers to use their rooftops for clean energy. (iStockphoto)
February 16. 2016
Solar power advocates are urging Minnesota retailers to use their rooftops for clean energy. (iStockphoto)

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - An environmental group says it's expecting more from Target's plan to set up rooftop solar panels. Target, based in Minneapolis, pledged last year to install panels on 500 of its stores by 2020.

But according to a report released today called "Solar on Superstores," the retail giant could do more by expanding the plan to all 2,000 locations.

Megan Spear, solar coordinator with Environment Minnesota, says the company's initial plan is a step in the right direction, but she points out Target owns enough roof space to power 230,000 homes with solar energy.

"They're second only to Walmart, with 240 million square feet of roof space," says Spear. "Because they've already shown they want to do more with their previous commitment, we want to give them that extra push to go all the way."

Spear and other clean-energy advocates are kicking off a campaign today to get the state's other big-box stores to also consider using their rooftop spaces for solar-power production.

Some retailers have been hesitant to adopt the technology. They cite the challenges of other equipment already mounted on commercial rooftops, and the high initial purchase price of solar energy systems.

But after today's report, Spear argues the long-term benefits could outweigh the costs of installing rooftop solar.

"We could potentially cut 919,000 metric tons of carbon pollution, in Minnesota alone," she says. "And Minnesota business locations could potentially save $91 million annually on their electricity bills."

Some groups, including the National Parks Conservation Association, have said large-scale solar farms can hurt some ecosystems. Environment Minnesota says that's another reason to use overhead commercial space for the installations instead.

Brandon Campbell, Public News Service - MN