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Large Shopping Centers See Electricity Bills Decrease After Installing Solar Panels
Wednesday, December 26th 2012 12:58 PM
By GetSolar Staff.
Malls and large shopping centers are big users of electricity, which for most means high utility bills. However, that doesn't have to be the case, as some retail centers have found after installing solar energy systems.

Westfield Century City Mall
In Los Angeles, the Westfield Century City Mall will have three rooftop solar arrays installed in early 2013. The projects will sit on an area of the roof over the mall's movie theater, a restaurant and common areas. A solar carport is also included in the plans, AZOBuild.com reported.

The systems will generate 765 kilowatts of energy. Joe Jaworski, Westfield's vice president of national operations, said the project will not only reduce the shopping center's environmental footprint, but will also save the facility money on its electricity cost and create a sizable return on investment, the article stated.

"The immediate payoffs are considerable, and any positive impact that we can make on long-term air quality is beneficial to the Southern California region, where we are a longstanding retail presence," he said.

Westfield had another California solar installation put in at two other shopping facilities last year. Those solar energy systems together generate 1.7 megawatts of electricity for the malls, according to the article.

Energy Management Today reported the solar installation at the Century City Mall is expected to be in operation by the end of 2013.

Other Shopping Centers Benefit From Solar
Macerich, the owner and operator of 62 shopping centers throughout the United States, has plans to increase its solar energy usage significantly in the coming years. Twelve of its malls across the country, including those in California, Arizona and New York, will have photovoltaic solar installations in 2013, Sustainable Business reported.

Among the malls that will have solar panels to help generate electricity and cut down the facility's energy bills is the Queens Center in New York City, the Scottsdale Fashion Center in Arizona and the Broadway Plaza in Walnut Creek, California.

While not a mall, a large Walmart store in San Diego will also see rooftop solar panels installed on its building. The facility will become the corporation's 100th store in California to use solar energy. The projects throughout the state are expected to generate a total of 70 million kilowatt hours of electricity annually, which is the equivalent of powering 5,400 homes. The solar installations will also produce between 10 and 30 percent of the store's energy needs, reducing electric consumption and driving down the cost of utility bills.

Walmart hopes to have 100 percent of its energy come from renewable sources in the future. The move to continue rooftop solar installations helps bring the corporation closer to that goal. Kimberly Sentovich, senior vice president for the Pacific Division of Walmart said in a statement  that the company would continue to invest in solar technologies that were both "good for the environment and good for business."

The majority of Walmart stores with solar installations are located in the Los Angeles area. A total of 43 stores in LA use solar energy, and 17 in the Bay Area. These large-scale commercial installations have helped make California the top nation in the state for PV capacity. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, the state has enough solar capacity installed to power 362,276 homes. The majority of the solar projects in California are commercial scale, like those seen on shopping centers and malls.

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