It was just a week ago that the Internet exploded with confused-anger after a photograph of peeled oranges packaged in plastic on the shelves of a Whole Foods store was posted on Twitter. Whole Foods, which fancies itself a sustainable and environmentally friendly company, quickly pulled the fruit from its shelves after enduring thousands of complaints about the oranges’ “wasteful” packaging.

But the company’s foray into solar power may help redeem its reputation among those who were incensed by the orange fiasco.

Whole Foods announced last week that it had signed agreements with SolarCity (chaired by Elon Musk) and NRG Energy to install rooftop solar panels atop as many as 100 of its stores and distribution centers.

The units will be installed by New Jersey-based NRG Energy at 84 locations in 9 states, including California, Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Texas. SolarCity, of California, will install the rest of the units.

SolarCity will also provide systems for the grocery chain, which could potentially expand the rooftop solar program as the installations are rolled out.

Whole Foods’ ultimate goal is to install solar at some 200 locations. A rooftop solar unit generates an estimated 5% to 20% of the annual electricity a store needs.

Kathy Luftus, global leader in sustainability at SolarCity, said in a statement:

“Installing solar at Whole Foods locations across the country will increase the percentage of renewable energy that is generated in communities where we work.” [1]

When the project is complete, Whole Foods will be 1 of the top 25 commercial solar companies in the United States.

Critics of Whole Foods’ peeled oranges should keep in mind that the company has made numerous “green” moves in recent years, including obtaining green building certifications, selling sustainable seafood, banning plastic bags, and transitioning to compostable cutlery and food packaging (oranges notwithstanding). [2]

But the supermarket chain has been under pressure in recent years to reduce costs, as it began facing more competition from the likes of Wal-Mart and German discount grocer, Aldi.

Read: Grocery Chain Aldi is Expanding Organics to Meet Consumer Demand

Wal-Mart is a competitor of Whole Foods in more ways than 1: the big box chain leads the way in solar installations, according to a report by the Solar Energy Industries Association, with 142 MW (megawatts) of solar on 348 stores and distribution centers. [3]

Sources:

[1] The New York Times

[2] Clean Technica

[3] The Motley Fool

Featured image source: Wikipedia


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Post written byJulie Fidler:
Julie Fidler is a freelance writer, legal blogger, and the author of Adventures in Holy Matrimony: For Better or the Absolute Worst. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two ridiculously spoiled cats. She occasionally pontificates on her blog.