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Walmart Goes Solar In California

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the price-drop-on-the-sun dept.

Power 292

tekgoblin writes "Walmart today has announced that it plans to install solar panels on more than 75 percent of its stores in the state. From the article: 'When completed, Walmart’s solar commitment in California is expected to generate up to 70 million kilowatt hours of clean, renewable energy per year, which is equal to powering more than 5,400 homes. It will also avoid producing more than 21,700 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year, which is equal to 4,100 cars off the road and provide 20 to 30 percent of each facility’s total electric needs.'"

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292 comments

How long until someone spins this as (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37474270)

Wal-Mart not supporting the local power generating economy? "Wal-Mart is stealing power from the sun! The old stores used to use power from the nuclear plant! What about the nuclear plant employes out of jobs?"

Stop the clock now! (0)

PeanutButterBreath (1224570) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474302)

What's the bet that Walmart is importing these panels from China?

Here's another way that Walmart could reduce its carbon footprint: Walmart could go away, and take its practice of burning energy to import wasteful landfill-destined crap from countries with lax environmental standards with it.

Re:Stop the clock now! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37474514)

What's the bet that Walmart is importing these panels from China?

As opposed to what? Buying them from a US manufacturer and being able to afford about half of the effect due to price difference? "Buy from us, we're more expensive" doesn't work, no matter which country you're from, sorry.

Re:Stop the clock now! (2, Insightful)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474584)

They could buy from a US solar manufacturer that only exists to collect government loan money, siphon it off to well-connected investors/political contributors, and then go bankrupt.

Clean Here, Cheap cost something there (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37474614)

http://www.theepochtimes.com/n2/china-news/chinas-solar-technology-pollutes-local-ecology-61860.html

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5g4lPhvjROoqGH-eR2NB2er_R6vDA?docId=CNG.5cc676d2b02da276cd06b20df22fe7f6.261

Re:Stop the clock now! (4, Insightful)

m.dillon (147925) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475462)

Well, more realistically, what is happening is that China is producing solar panels well in excess of demand (and doing a number on their environment in the process, but that's another story), and it's forced prices for panels down so much that all the other panel producers are dropping like flies. Has nothing whatsoever to do with U.S. regulations (unless you want U.S. creeks to run black with industrial chemicals too), or conspiracy theories about siphoning government money or anything like that.

Even worse, panel prices are now low enough to compete against large industrial-scale mirror/tower systems. So THOSE companies are also getting crushed as contracts get canceled and buyers go with panels. Think about that for a moment. It isn't that panels are less expensive than mirrors, it's that panels are now less expensive than mirrors + tower system + workforce required to keep it maintained.

-Matt

Re:Stop the clock now! (1)

PeanutButterBreath (1224570) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474616)

As opposed to what? Buying them from a US manufacturer and being able to afford about half of the effect due to price difference? "Buy from us, we're more expensive" doesn't work, no matter which country you're from, sorry.

At least not when the "Buy from us, we're cheaper" types give nothing back to the communities they extract their billions from.

Re:Stop the clock now! (1)

Z34107 (925136) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474956)

At least not when the "Buy from us, we're cheaper" types give nothing back to the communities they extract their billions from.

By the definition of "cheaper", I think they actually gave more back.

Re:Stop the clock now! (1)

lightknight (213164) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475210)

Quiet you. It's not enough that you've sold them something material, they also want something intangible for doing business with you.

That something intangible is usually some form of rakeback. They want the money they just gave you, back.

Remember, when someone says they want someone else to do something for the community, it typically means they want someone else to do something for free. I.e. We want free services, that you pay for. A cash grab.

Re:Stop the clock now! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37474958)

"Buy from us, we're more expensive" doesn't work

Indeed, what works is making stuff with disposable workers [globalmon.org.hk], dumping [reuters.com] the effulgent into the nearest body of water and shipping the product to wealthy idiots that give each other huge tax breaks to install it all.

Re:Stop the clock now! (1)

segin (883667) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474640)

This would work only because then people would be forced to shop elsewhere, at higher prices, and thus able to buy less landfill-destined crap. Other than that, everything else will sadly stay the same.

Re:Stop the clock now! (1)

PeanutButterBreath (1224570) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474802)

This would work only because then people would be forced to shop elsewhere, at higher prices, and thus able to buy less landfill-destined crap.

This assumes that whatever you pay, all you will get is landfill-destined crap. The alternative is that you will spend more to by fewer, but durable things. They might be more expensive because they require more highly skilled labor to build.

Of course, there is no money in durability if you are a manufacturer or retailer, and highly skilled workers are a liability. Thus, they flood the market with garbage and talk only about price, or at best, trendy features.

Re:Stop the clock now! (0)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475286)

There is plenty of money in durability. I buy nice, expensive things when I'm using them all the time, because the investment in durability is worth it. OTOH, there are plenty of times where relatively low quality is more than adequate for the job.

I once bought a food processor for $30 from Walmart. A Cuisinart of the same size would have cost about $250. It would have had more blades, it would have had a more powerful motor, it would have looked better, and it would undoubtedly have been very, very durable. On the other hand, that food processor that my wife just had to have (even though she doesn't cook) has been used a grand total of five times. As far as I'm concerned, they saved me $220. If I had bought the expensive one, it would have been expensive unused crap.

Re:Stop the clock now! (2)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475316)

This would work only because then people would be forced to shop elsewhere, at higher prices, and thus able to buy less landfill-destined crap.

This assumes that whatever you pay, all you will get is landfill-destined crap. The alternative is that you will spend more to by fewer, but durable things. They might be more expensive because they require more highly skilled labor to build.

Of course, there is no money in durability if you are a manufacturer or retailer, and highly skilled workers are a liability. Thus, they flood the market with garbage and talk only about price, or at best, trendy features.

I'm sorry, but a lawn chair is a lawn chair is a lawn chair. Just rubber dog shit is rubber dog shit and shower curtain rings are shower curtain rings! All this stuff is crap, and no matter how much quality you put into any of these crappy products, they last about the same amount of time and perform about the same as those that have little to no quality control. These are not automobiles or complex microprocessors. These products have two levels of quality; works and doesn't work. There is no middle ground. This is the type of stuff you find at Walmart. It's stuff that has no measure of quality that is produced so cheaply, it's actually cheaper to throw away 10% of the finished product than it is to improve quality to 95% or even the unobtainable 100%.

So, your American "union quality" shower curtain rings that I have to buy for $5.00 so someone I don't care about can get a paid vacation, health insurance for his "domestic partner" and four 15-minute breaks a day plus 1-hr lunch will perform the exact same function as the $2.00 shower curtain rings that were made by 8-yr-old Tibetan girl. As I'm standing in Walmart at 2:00am looking for something to hang my shower curtain in my new apartment so I can go to work tomorrow freshly showered, guess which one I'm gonna buy. If you really need help figuring that one out, remember, all I see are shower curtain rings and a price tag, and they both will perform the exact same function.

Re:Stop the clock now! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37475006)

This would work only because then people would be forced to shop elsewhere, at higher prices, and thus able to buy less landfill-destined crap.

And this is a bad thing how?

Re:How long until someone spins this as (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475290)

Yes, but Wal-Mart stores are still typically far enough away that I wouldn't be surprised if the amount of emissions these save are offset by the amount of extra emissions by placing large stores where people have to drive a ways to go to. Rather than the shorter distances needed to get supplies at the stores that Wal-Mart drives out of business.

Finally (1)

itsenrique (846636) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474272)

Some news that will help get solar taken seriously. I understand its not the end-all of our energy problems (not even close), but its nice to see it get to a price point where the largest of corporations begin to utilize it. I'm not sure if the state granted any subsidies, but I'd have to say if they are going to subsidize something, at least this can't cause radiation evacuations, black lung, acid rain, and the like.

Re:Finally (3, Interesting)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474578)

Some news that will help get solar taken seriously. I understand its not the end-all of our energy problems (not even close), but its nice to see it get to a price point where the largest of corporations begin to utilize it. I'm not sure if the state granted any subsidies, but I'd have to say if they are going to subsidize something, at least this can't cause radiation evacuations, black lung, acid rain, and the like.

I live in California, and installed solar on my house back in March.

There's federal and state subsidies, but they're much lower now than they were in the past. I just filled out my state rebate form today - it amounts to about 5% of the cost of installation. I can't recall what the federal rate is off the top of my head, but it's certainly a lot lower than the 50% subsidy rate solar used to get.

The reason for solar's success here in California is only minorly due to the subsidies (they are being phased out). The real reason is that California's power generation system is 40 years out of date, and electricity prices have skyrocketed, with top-tier power costing 55c per kilowatt-hour, the last time I checked. It's not too difficult to get into the top pricing tier, either. If you set your thermostat below 78 in the summer, you'll end up paying over a thousand dollars for power in a month. (YMMV, depending on the size of your house, the efficiency level of your AC, and the thermal properties of your walls and windows.)

If you have solar, you apply your generation credits to your most expensive kilowatt-hours first, meaning you're generating at 55c/kWh. Small scale PV Solar systems have a 10-year levelized cost (after subsidies) of around 25c/kWh, which is why the optimal solution is to buy solar capacity up to a level that it will drop you into the cheap tiers of power. That's why I switched to solar (the environmental benefits are a nice bonus), and is certainly why Walmart is switching to solar in the state.

In states that don't have such backwater environmental laws, power is often flat rate and around 5 to 10 cents per kilowatt-hour. Solar doesn't make sense in these states.

Re:Finally (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37474684)

Holy crap that's expensive.
Here in BC we pay 6.67c per KWh for the first 1350KWh and 9.62c thereafter, plus taxes and all that...

Re:Finally (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474918)

Yeah I don't think that applies everywhere, according to SCE's rate sheet any domestic user consuming over ~900 kwh/month during the summer is paying ~$.30/kwh for those overage kwh. As far as businesses, they seem to be paying ~$.18/kwh at peak [sce.com] so I'm not sure how solar at $.25/khw is competitive, of course the rate sheet is way, way more complex than the tariff schedule here so I could be reading it incorrectly (I'm assuming you can get 2kv feeds for a commercial site, if only 480V is available then the much higher cost of ~$.36/kwh starts to make some solar attractive). That said my employer, a major Walmart landlord, has been working with SunEdison to install 30m ft^2 of solar on centers around the country, and they started in NJ, not CA so you don't have to have crazy environmental laws to make solar make economic sense.

Re:Finally (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475242)

I'm not sure how solar at $.25/khw is competitive

Simply because the California electricity system has been an internationally known joke at least since the early 1990s. Ask electrical engineers in any third world backwater about California if you want to cheer them up and make them feel better about their own generation and distribution problems.
Photovoltaics, while a horribly expensive way to produce electricity in bulk, are a cheap way to say "look at me I'm green" when a more sensible large scale long term solution such as solar thermal has a huge capital cost before you get anything at all. That's why energy companies have had little showpieces of photovoltaics for decades instead of anythign serious. Photovoltaics make sense for Walmart both from the PR angle and the cost reduction angle since they can't muscle into the existing electricity market and can't build their own power plant. If nothing else think of it as a great big UPS for when there are "brownouts" on the grid.
Solar airconditioning is another thing to watch if it gets the attention of places with large buildings such as Walmart. It works if you are in a sunny enough place but it works best at very large scales. The refrigeration cycle is just a heat pump and doesn't care if the heat comes from the sun or whatever source.

Re:Finally (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475332)

They desperately need the kind of PR that solar panels bring. It should theoretically help appease some of the liberals that are fighting to keep them from opening stores in their areas. Although, I'm not sure that the difference between almost completely evil and completely evil is really enough of a distinction to be worthwhile.

Re:Finally (1)

owlstead (636356) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475564)

Stupid question, but would it not also shield the roof from sunlight as well? Would that not cut in electricity costs? I presume the roof is not *that* well isolated?

Re:Finally (1)

glodime (1015179) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475566)

they started in NJ, not CA so you don't have to have crazy environmental laws to make solar make economic sense

Clearly you know little about NJ DEP environmental laws, the recent SREC bubble and the political machine in my home state. SunEdison exists because of minimum requirements of renewable and solar sources on NJ power generation which was copied in other states.

Re:Finally (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37475434)

you deserve the bill if you run your AC all day.

like my annoying neighbors with a loud AC unit. they're selling the house and moving now though, hopefully because of the electricity costs!

Solyndra (1)

Lead Butthead (321013) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474938)

Solyndra probably could've used some of that business, except that with the way Wally World works, they probably would insist Solyndra to relocate their factory to China...

Not a real savings (-1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474284)

Walmart will likely use Chinese made panels. As such, China not only uses heavy coal, but they have NO WORKING emissions control on any of it. Note that they are required to install it per a treaty with Japan. However, Japan left out that little part about saying that it had to be used. So Chinese utilitiy plants simply pull them out of line. And yes, this was vetted by a friend of mine that did the work there. They tested the air all around the plants that were less than 1 year old and they were putting out almost as much pollution as the old ones (it was a bit cleaner, but not by much).
Likewise, China had been dumping their solvents into the rivers. Now that is prohibited. Instead the gov helps load these on major fishing boats that go to America and dump it on the way. So, rather than deal with it, or simply dump it in their own river, they now dump it directly in the Ocean.
If walmart was sincere, they would be picking up the Panel from American-made or at least Western-Made . I doubt that they will.

Re:Not a real savings (3)

itsenrique (846636) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474298)

Ok, I'm not going to come with the cliched "citation needed", but dude... do you have any evidence to back up any of this?

Re:Not a real savings (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37474342)

Didn't you see? his friend from China told him so.

Re:Not a real savings (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37474432)

Re:Not a real savings (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37474580)

How does any of that prove that Wal-Mart is going to get their solar equipment from China?

Re:Not a real savings (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37474498)

It's a well known fact that by outsourcing manufacturing to China, one effectively subcontracts borderline slave labor and gets around environmental regulations. This has been reported so many times that you've got to be sticking your head in the sand to be unaware of it.

While it is true that skepticism correlates with intelligence, demanding citations for borderline obvious[*] and well reported facts only makes you look uninformed. I think the burden of proof falls on you for this one.

[*] There clearly is a catch as to why Chinese-made products are so much cheaper than American ones, despite having to cross the Pacific and being manufactured by a less educated and workforce in poor living conditions.

Savings? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37474306)

So the question ultimately is how much money are they expecting to save doing this. Given WalMart's general reputation, I'm sure they're not doing this to be a glowing example of corporate citizenship and any 'green' side-effects are entirely coincidental.

Re:Savings? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37474448)

I know they have taken consideration of this, very much. I used to work at Walmart as a consultant (not saying which kind), but they let me go due to "economic reasons" even though my continued suggestions could have saved them more money.

Basically what Walmart does and how it makes so much money selling cheap crap is by maximizing volume and thereby minimizing cost. It will make giant bulk orders and demand a specific price. Usually these orders are enough to sustain a business for a long time (i.e in the millions), so it's literally an offer they can't refuse: the business either has to eat the price Walmart demands or hope someone else can sustain their business and keep them afloat.

That being said, Walmart is committed to this idea of maximum volume at minimum cost. So much so that everything from the ground up, even the registers and checkout area, are fast and can handle as much as a customer could ever buy.

Walmart probably already got a quote from this and already knows that if they generate excess power they will get a fair price for the extra electricity. So this may pay for itself and more in the long term.

Re:Savings? (3, Informative)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474642)

>>Walmart probably already got a quote from this and already knows that if they generate excess power they will get a fair price for the extra electricity. So this may pay for itself and more in the long term.

In general, you target solar to reduce your electricity needs down to the baseline (cheap) tier of power, which is subsidized by the higher tier prices, which run up to 55c/kWh in the state.

PG&E used to not have to pay "net surplus customer-generators" for any extra power they produced, but one of Arnie's last acts as governor was to make PG&E pay the same rate for generation as customers would pay for consumption, with AB 920 (http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/09-10/bill/asm/ab_0901-0950/ab_920_bill_20091011_chaptered.html).

What this means in practice is that for any realistic small-scale installations, PG&E will pay you to generate power at the baseline rate, which is not especially profitable, and certainly not worth the cost of installation.

percentages (5, Funny)

Bobfrankly1 (1043848) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474324)

and provide 20 to 30 percent of each facility’s total electric needs.

The remainder of the store, as usual is powered by crushing up the hopes and dreams of it's employees and competitors.

Re:percentages (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37474602)

Interesting that you show no concern for the consumers who get to pay less and find more of what they need in one place; saving them time, search costs, and travel costs. But of course any benefits must be ignored to fit your "evil corporation" paradigm.

Re:percentages (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37474828)

You're a dork. Have you ever been to walmart? It's depressing. But I guess you have to ignore that to preserve your super-savings ideology.

Re:percentages (1)

PeanutButterBreath (1224570) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474850)

Interesting that you show no concern for the consumers who get to pay less and find more of what they need in one place; saving them time, search costs, and travel costs. But of course any benefits must be ignored to fit your "evil corporation" paradigm.

Those benefits are directly tied to those same consumers being paid less and having fewer options for both shopping and employment. Its a vortex that will suck you in sooner or later. Until then, enjoy the cheap 5 gallon jars of Miracle Whip!

Re:percentages (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37474952)

Those benefits are directly tied to those same consumers being paid less and having fewer options for both shopping and employment.

Different Anon here, and I'm far from being a Wal-Mart fan, but in fairness I have to point out that those consumers willingly choose to have fewer options for shopping and employment by patronizing Wal-Mart over other stores. It's not like Wal-Mart sends ninjas to burn down the local stores and kill the owners when they build a new superstore.

Re:percentages (1)

luther349 (645380) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475570)

yes they do. what a walmart does is undercut everyone when there new store opens to burn down the competition. its just like that ep of south-park but in real-life. when there done destroying jobs etc they jack there prices up and become the most expensive store to shop at. they will repeat this cycle if someone moves in and starts to undercut them to try and compete.also if you wanna see walmart ninja murder someone mention the word union when you got a job there you will disappear fast.

Re:percentages (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37474932)

It's wonderful that they get to pay less to shop there, because Walmart pays them less to work there. Not much net difference, but they can no longer to afford to shop at other specialty stores.

Re:percentages (1)

Ocker3 (1232550) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475170)

"any benefits" eh? What about the studies which have shown that Walmarts depress the economy in their vicinity, due to a proveable depression on average wages? It becomes a vicious cycle, people shop at Walmart for the low prices, other stores lose business and can't keep as many staff on or close, average income drops, forcing more people to shop at Walmart...

Re:percentages (1)

luther349 (645380) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475524)

theirs nothing cheaper bought going to walmart anymore. for a time yes they where cheaper then everyone but now shop around you will see walmart has became a overpriced understocked shadow of what it used to be. but with years of brainwashing people into beveling that crap people think they are cheaper when the store down the road has better prices and probably better payed happy employees. trust me i rather be homeless then ever set foot or work at a walmart again.

Light powered lighting (1)

ooloogi (313154) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474330)

Solar power to run the lighting inside? How about just using the light directly via skylights?

Re:Light powered lighting (2)

idbeholda (2405958) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474390)

They already do, but skylights are only viable during DAYLIGHT hours.

Re:Light powered lighting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37474504)

So are solar panels....

Batteries (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474622)

PV panels can store energy in batteries. Skylights cannot. But perhaps a mix of the two approaches might be best.

Re:Light powered lighting (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475340)

And so do solar panels. Unless of course they've developed ones that work at night, at which case I'll shut up as they've clearly contributed something amazing to humanity.

Re:Light powered lighting (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474414)

Doesn't work at night. While solar doesn't work at night, you still have the light you can power. If you cut a bunch of holes in the ceiling, you can't put lights their. And that assume they don't have storage above above the ceiling.

What kind of a deal did they negotiate? (2)

istartedi (132515) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474350)

Say what you will about Walmart; but they deal hard. I wonder how much they are paying per watt for this installation.

Re:What kind of a deal did they negotiate? (1)

Phyridean (1122061) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474648)

Say what you will about Walmart; but they deal hard.

I believe that's precisely what people say about Walmart. They deal hard, and that's hard on individuals, hard on communities, and hard on whoever they have to run over to make a quick buck, which given their size, is pretty much everybody.

Re:What kind of a deal did they negotiate? (1)

PeanutButterBreath (1224570) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474860)

Indeed. Any cost concessions they extract will ultimately come out of some Chinese solar panel plant workers paycheck.

Re:What kind of a deal did they negotiate? (3, Insightful)

Xacid (560407) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475028)

Sure must suck having a job that:
-pays above minimum wage
-has benefits
-helps keep the cost of goods from rising insanely
-is damned efficient at what it does

Mind you - I'm not going to disagree that there are some socio-economic issues with how walmart does business - but they aren't the only ones playing that game and they're not 100% evil. If you're a business owner - you're pretty much guaranteed to do very well if you can get in the same shopping center as a walmart as long as you're not in the business of selling the same goods walmart does for the same demographics. I've seen cities blossom around such shopping centers and a large portion of the stores nearby have been there for years as a result.

Re:What kind of a deal did they negotiate? (3, Interesting)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475262)

Sure must suck having a job that:
-pays above minimum wage
-has benefits
-helps keep the cost of goods from rising insanely
-is damned efficient at what it does

Mind you - I'm not going to disagree that there are some socio-economic issues with how walmart does business - but they aren't the only ones playing that game and they're not 100% evil. If you're a business owner - you're pretty much guaranteed to do very well if you can get in the same shopping center as a walmart as long as you're not in the business of selling the same goods walmart does for the same demographics. I've seen cities blossom around such shopping centers and a large portion of the stores nearby have been there for years as a result.

I like that the benefits are based on qualifying for foodstamps and medicaid, but at least they're semi-provided by Walmart because they train employees to sign up for and use those services. See http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0473107/ [imdb.com]

Re:What kind of a deal did they negotiate? (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475296)

My favorite hardware store (Wallys, Sumter, SC) is near a Walmart, a Lowes, and not far from a large Simpson's hardware store.

It THRIVES because the provide good, personal service. The proprietor WELCOMED the newer arrivals years ago because they drive massive traffic to his location.

Re:What kind of a deal did they negotiate? (2)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475362)

Citations necessary. The benefits they offer were paltry last I checked and in many areas the state is effectively subsidizing Wal-Mart employees because the wage is below the poverty line. Employees are cut off from further raises after only 5 years and the last thing you want is for your employer to be keeping the cost of goods down and being efficient by undervaluing your work and ensuring that nobody else can afford to pay more.

Re:What kind of a deal did they negotiate? (1)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475470)

People who hate Wal-Mart are people who have never been poor or had to shop in the boondocks. I'd agree with you that the handful of Wal-Mart employees I've met have actually been quite happy with their jobs, thought it was a good company to work for - especially because they promote from within.

Re:What kind of a deal did they negotiate? (4, Interesting)

luther349 (645380) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475626)

that's walmart bs your spreading there. they pay minimum wage unless your 3rd shift and that's only due to 3rd shift laws. there so called benefits cost more then most people make,32 hrs a week is full time.for a walmart employee its also like that to prevent certen rights a real full-time employee would have like vacation time.walmart prices are higher then most other stores these days look for yourself. and there is nothing efficient bought walmart its ran by as i said under-payed unhappy people by overpaid managers who couldn't run a gas station. a managers day at walmart is what can i yell at you about today they care less how good or bad a job is done they just need to bitch i think that's part of there contract. trust me anyone that has ever worked there will tell you the same thing.

Re:What kind of a deal did they negotiate? (1)

lkcl (517947) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475212)

it doesn't matter: the amount of energy that goes into the production of those panels is a significant fraction of the energy they generate over their lifetime. whoops... http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20090201062719AATwL62 [yahoo.com]

Re:What kind of a deal did they negotiate? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37475492)

Nothing like using Yahoo answers where any yahoo can answer as your supporting evidence. And on top of that, the link doesn't even support your false claim.

Face, meet palm!

Re:What kind of a deal did they negotiate? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37475586)

You own link is replete with people refuting your own claims.

Re:What kind of a deal did they negotiate? (1)

j-beda (85386) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475610)

it doesn't matter: the amount of energy that goes into the production of those panels is a significant fraction of the energy they generate over their lifetime. whoops... http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20090201062719AATwL62 [yahoo.com]

Maybe I missed something - the article you referenced seems to say that the energy generate equals the energy used in about 4 years, for panels with a lifetime of 20+ years. Seems like a net gain of a factor of 4 or 5, which isn't that bad in my opinion. I guess 20% is perhaps a "significant fraction" in some situations, but you seem to be implying that "going solar" is illogical from an energy-of-production point of view, when it certainly is not.

Re:What kind of a deal did they negotiate? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37475508)

"They deal hard"?

Walmart: We have decided to pay you X amount of dollars per month for electricity.
Electric Company: No, you'll pay what everyone else pays.
Walmart: We are Walmart, we deal hard, we will pay X amount of dollars per month.
Electric Company: Call us when need the electricity turned back on.

Good (2)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474368)

Now give people 40 hours shifts, and better pay and working conditions.

Re:Good (1)

ccalvert (126669) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474490)

Well even if they are scummy, and I'm not saying they are, it is better to be scummy and use solar power than to be scummy and use carbon based power. I'm always ready to hear some good news....

Re:Good (2)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475032)

Now give people 40 hours shifts, and better pay and working conditions.

I haven't done a 40-hour 'shift' since College, but boy was that brutal. I wouldn't recommend it.

I'd also not recommending eliminating low-paying jobs, because people who can't get high-paying jobs need low-paying jobs. Walmart shouldn't be a career for most people.

Re:Good (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475386)

It shouldn't be, and yet it is. Which is the problem, as the US dismantles the tools that the poor use to better their situation you find more and more people making a career out of busting their asses for low pay and little to no benefits.

You're definitely right, nobody should be making a career out of it, but in practice there's plenty of folks who bust their humps for an entire career at minimum wage.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37475520)

Which isn't walmarts problem. People need their minimum wage jobs. I'd rather they do that then collect unemployment.

If Wal-Mart goes far enough with this plan... (1)

idbeholda (2405958) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474378)

They might actually become the real competition and/or supplier for power companies, consumers and/or businesses, depending on how much money can be made. This is what capitalism is truly about.

Re:If Wal-Mart goes far enough with this plan... (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475198)

Not at all, the plan my employer started on a few years ago was going to be 30m ft^2 of rooftop solar around the country and was expected to produce 540MW of peak electricity, that's equivalent to half a large generator at a modern plant.

inconvenient truth (1)

arnodf (1310501) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474426)

An inconvenient truth was just on tv here and watched it again after all these years. Coming on /. and reading this news feel good. I've heard bad things about Walmart but this makes them earn a great deal of my respect.

Costs (1)

Caerdwyn (829058) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474606)

In California, electrical rates are insanely high. Even with the relatively low efficiency of solar and the high associated costs, when subsidies are taken into account it may simply be the cheapest path forward.

None of this addresses why California's electrical rates are so high to begin with, of course.

Re:Costs (4, Insightful)

currently_awake (1248758) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474826)

The reason California has the highest electricity costs in the western world is because they privatized the whole system but without any protection to protect the consumer from price fixing or profit maximization. Corporations like to gouge you, it's what they were designed for- to maximize profit. If the electric company anticipates demand and maintains the infrastructure you get safe reliable cheap power. If they don't you get costly unreliable dangerous power. The first costs more and brings in less (low profit), the second costs less and brings in more(high profit)- clearly the intelligent CEO will opt for the second plan.

Re:Costs (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37475244)

I generally disagree with government regulation of private industries but in this case I think it's necessary since consumers don't have a choice of who to buy their electricity or gas from.

The majority of Sacramento where i used to live had a non profit electric company. Now that I live 15 miles away I have to buy from PG&E and my energy costs are about double.

Re:Costs (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37475268)

And going by the San Bruno gas pipeline explosion, it's clear PG&E is going for unreliable dangerous power.

Thanks for bringing this up -- privatizing a crucial service like electricity and gas, and then letting one company monopolize that industry hurts consumers. In CA we have no choice and PG&E can do anything they want. They grease enough politicians that none will stand up for the little guys.

As it stands, PG&E isn't going to get in trouble at all for the explosion, even though all evidence proves undeniably it is entirely their fault, and they are passing the payments the owe to the victims right over to the customers. It's rare that you can blow up multiple people and get away with it, but PG&E has proven this is possible and completely legal.

Taxpayer Subsidy (1)

keepingmyheaddown (767900) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474896)

Sure it's the cheapest path forward for Walmart, they'll collect a bunch of subsidies paid for by us CA utility customers and taxpayers.

Profitable or subsidized? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37474646)

Is this cost effective for WalMart, or are they getting some special deal or kickback?
On the positive side, as large scale deployment of solar panel increase, I'd expect the cost of the panel to fall.

Windows, duh! (3, Insightful)

transami (202700) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474900)

You know, if they just put in some windows (hey light tubes too!), they could save a whole lot more money on lighting too.

It always amazes me walking into these huge stores in the middle of the day, and they have hundreds of lights on to make it as bright inside as it already is outside. How hard is this to figure out?

Re:Windows, duh! (2)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475182)

Given the size of the average big box store, and the number of shelving units therein, I'm skeptical that windows would provide much light for most of the store. They'd also make heating and cooling a lot more expensive, probably more than wiping out whatever energy savings the store realized on lighting.

skylights (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37475466)

They could be talking about skylights. If Walmart doesn't want to sacrifice the solar panel real estate on the roof they could route the outside light inside using mirrors.

Re:Windows, duh! (1)

Nimey (114278) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475540)

One of the area's Walmarts has lots of skylights in its ceilings. Can't speak as to HVAC efficiency, but on sunny days it's pretty bright in there.

Jobs For Many (1)

b4upoo (166390) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475208)

I hope the solar cells are made in the USA but at the very least a large number of people will be employed doing the installs on these bid stores. Good for Wall Mart .

Link to Solyndra? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37475228)

I thought for a moment that the bankrupt Solyndra supplied the solar products to Walmart at a huge loss. So in a roundabout way, maybe the taxpayers funded the Walmart solar effort.

Cue the Zombie film (1)

Ocker3 (1232550) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475276)

I just Know this is going to spawn some kind of Zombie film story, where the characters all end up at a Walmart because the power stays on. Or perhaps the Walmarts become the centers of resistance, with strange consequences for the future reshaping of society.

Nice defensive response (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37475312)

They will at least have partial power now when California goes dark.

8 Mwatts of generating capacity (1)

Relayman (1068986) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475488)

According to my calculations, this works out to about 8 Mwatts of generating capacity, approximately .045% of the total generating capacity in California...

fresh from china (1)

luther349 (645380) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475504)

if you know anything bought walmart stores they are horrid over-sized stores that eat power. they need like 3 dedicated transformers to them i know this being are store blew one of them and most of the store was still running dispite being power starved lights and stuff where funky thow. trust me thers nothing green bought a walmart.and where probably under pressure from the states to do it, walmart does nothing without legal threats.

Working The Numbers Backwards (1)

nick_davison (217681) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475518)

Solar panels on 75% of its stores will produce 20-30% (let's average at 25%) of those stores' electricity needs.This is 70m kWh, equal to the power for 5,400 homes and polution equal to 21,700 metric tons of CO2/4100 cars.

So, they currently produce 4x that across those 75% of their stores plus a third again of that total for their other 25%. So 5 1/3x that figure. Or over 100,000 metric tons of CO2, the equivalent of almost 22,000 cars and draw the power of almost 30,000 homes - over a third of a billion kilowatt hours and about 10% of the total energy a 500 megawatt coal power station can produce.

Even after the savings, they'll be producing 80,000 metric tons of CO2, 15,000 car equivalents and drawing the power of 25,000 homes - over 300,000,000 kilowatt hours.

And all of this excludes the CO2 their truck fleets produce.

It's a nice start but there's a long, long way to go.

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