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Ikea powers up with solar in East Palo Alto store

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East Palo Alto, Calif. -- Ikea said Wednesday it has plugged in the solar energy installation at its store in East Palo Alto, Calif.

The 38,000-sq.-ft. array consists of a 302-kW system, built with approximately 1,344 panels. The Swedish home furnishings retailer’s program will produce approximately 427,900 kWh of clean electricity annually – the equivalent of reducing 326 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2), eliminating the emissions of 58 cars or powering 35 homes yearly.

Ikea said its initiative will contribute to the local utility’s renewable portfolio goals and will lower the carbon intensity of the electrical grid.

The East Palo Alto effort represents the seventh solar energy project for Ikea in the United States, joining operational systems in Brooklyn, N.Y., Burbank, Calif., Pittsburgh, Tejon, Calif., and Tempe, Ariz., with both a solar energy system and a geothermal system operational at the Denver-area store opening this July in Centennial, Colo.

There currently are plans underway to install systems at five other Ikea locations in California, as well as eight more in the Eastern U.S.

For the development, design and installation of the customized solar power system, Ikea contracted with Gloria Solar, the U.S. operating group focused on the photovoltaic business within the family of E-Ton Solar Group.

“Our mission is to create a better everyday life for the many, and at Ikea East Palo Alto, we are happy to do so with this effort,” said Jill Matherson, store manager. “A solar energy system will help reduce the store’s carbon footprint and represents another investment toward our future in this community. We appreciate the continued support of the City of East Palo Alto, Pacific Gas & Electric, and Gloria Solar, our partners in this project.”

Globally, Ikea evaluates all locations regularly for energy conservation opportunities, integrates innovative materials into product design, works with Global Forest Watch to maintain sustainable resources, and flat-packs goods for efficient distribution. Specific U.S. sustainable efforts include: recycling waste material (paper, wood, plastic, etc.); incorporating environmental measures into the construction of buildings in terms of energy-efficient HVAC and lighting systems, recycled construction materials, skylights in warehouse areas, and water conserving restrooms; and operationally, phasing out the sale of incandescent light bulbs and facilitating recycling of customers’ compact fluorescent bulbs.