WHOLE FOODS STORE TURNS ON SOLAR-POWERED LIGHTS

BERKELEY, Calif. -- Whole Foods Market, Austin, Texas, installed its first 33-kilowatt, solar-powered lighting system in a 30,000-square-foot store here. Solar energy will be the store's primary lighting source."With the installation of this system, we are furthering our corporate mission to promote clean energy and preserve the environment," said Ron Megahan, president, northern Pacific region, Whole

BERKELEY, Calif. -- Whole Foods Market, Austin, Texas, installed its first 33-kilowatt, solar-powered lighting system in a 30,000-square-foot store here. Solar energy will be the store's primary lighting source.

"With the installation of this system, we are furthering our corporate mission to promote clean energy and preserve the environment," said Ron Megahan, president, northern Pacific region, Whole Foods Market, during the dedication this month of the photovoltaic system at the store, located at 3000 Telegraph Ave.

Whole Foods expects an approximate five-year payback on electricity savings from the system, which had cost approximately $260,000 to install, and comes with a 25-year warranty, officials said.

Executives estimated that the Berkeley store spends around $2,000 per month on electric lighting.

Mark Bronez, vice president sales, PowerLight Corp., a local manufacturer of commercial-scale, solar-electric products, noted that California companies which install solar power to replace electrical power receive substantial rebates from the California Energy Commission.

Additional federal and state tax credits, along with a five-year accelerated depreciation, can offset as much as 80% of the total cost of installing the system, he said.

"As a company, we are always actively searching for ways to preserve natural resources, so a solar powered lighting system made sense from an environmental standpoint and from an economic point of view," said Megahan. "With theinstallation of this system, we are furthering our corporate mission to promote clean energy and preserve the environment."

Megahan said that other Whole Foods Market stores were observing the project. He was sharing information on the technology with other stores but it was too soon to know when or if others will follow.

The solar electric system, furnished by Berkeley-based PowerLight Corporation, the leading manufacturer of commercial-scale solar electric products, has been integrated with Nextek's unique solar-assisted lighting technologies.

The system was installed under the management of Princeton Energy Systems. It is attached with metal tongue-in-groove modules, lies flat on the roof, and is virtually invisible to customers.

The cost of installation of the system, which has a 25 year warranty, was estimated at around $260,000. It was estimated that the Berkeley store spends around $2,000 per month on electric lighting.

Pre-fab solar panels took around two weeks to install and did not cause any disruption to business, said PowerLight executives.The light-weight solarpanels can withstand up to 150 mile per hour winds.

Solar power will run the fluorescent lighting during daylight hours. The system does not store power, and switches automatically to the electric grid when solar power is not available.

The solar array, composed of PowerLight's PowerGuard tiles covering 2,860square feet on the store'sroof, turns the sun's energy into usable power while increasing buildingthermal insulation and extending the life of the roof.

The solar tiles areelectrically interconnected to Nextek power modules, which feed high qualityDC power to the store's newly retrofitted advanced DC lighting system. Thisinnovative solar electric and lighting system maximizes the usable solar energy produced by the photovoltaic panels and increases the efficiency of power conversion.

Whole Foods Market's new solar electrical system is expected to createsignificant economic and environmental benefits, say company executives. In addition to the amortization period, the system will produce and save more than one millionkilowatt hours over 25 years

The system also results in more than 1,060 tons of CO2 emissions avoided, the equivalent of removing 285 cars from the roadways, said a Whole Foods Market spokesperson.

"We're very excited to be working with our neighbor, Whole Foods Market, starting here in Berkeley. Whole Foods is demonstrating true leadership in the retail industry by committing to clean, reliable and affordable solar power," said PowerLight CEO Tom Dinwoodie.

The combination of solar power and efficient lighting, along with a newlyinstalled Duro-Last Energy Star roof system with a solar reflectance of more than 86%, will reduce both peak and base load electricity demand. The net effect will be reduced load on the local electric substation, especially during peak summer hours.

"Solar-powered DC lighting systems are the future for cost-effective retail lighting solutions," said David McManus, project manager of Princeton Energy Systems.