Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market to Install Solar Energy Systems Atop Nine Arizona Stores in March 2011

'Green' Food and Grocery Retailing

We've suggested in past stories on the blog that Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market should look into installing solar panels and solar energy systems on the roofs of as many of its 155 fresh food and grocery stores as is feasible, since not only are the small-format markets well-suited for solar because of their size - 12,000 square-feet on average - and locations - sunny Southern California, metropolitan Las Vegas, Nevada and metro Phoenix, Arizona - but also because doing so would fit well with the grocer's attempt to position the chain as a "green" or sustainable grocer, which is one of United Kingdom-based Tesco's strategic goals with Fresh & Easy.

Adding rooftop solar to some of the Fresh & Easy stores also fits well with what Tesco did when it constructed its 850,000 square-foot Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market distribution center in Riverside County, (Southern) California in 2007, which was to invest $13 million to install 500,000 square-feet of solar panels, about the size of five football fields, on the roof of the facility.

The massive solar array provides about a fifth of the total energy for the distribution center, according to Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market. Fresh & Easy's website has a live feed from the solar installation at the Riverside County distribution center, reporting in real time the performance of the panels. You can view it here.

Lastly, extending solar from the Riverside County distribution center's roof to store rooftops, in addition to adding to Fresh & Easy's credibility in the Western U.S. as a "green" grocer, also fits in well with parent company Tesco's strategy of being known as a global sustainable retailer and leader in climate change reduction, which is something outgoing CEO (March 2011) Terry Leahy has made a major corporate and cultural focus during the last few years.

Since extending solar from the rooftop of the Riverside County distribution center to the roofs of some of the small-format Fresh & Easy stores is something we've discussed in Fresh & Easy Buzz in the past, a press release distributed by Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market earlier today on just that topic caught our collective eye.
In the release, Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market announced it plans to install solar systems on the roofs of nine of its stores in metropolitan Phoenix, Arizona beginning in March 2011.

The project will be in partnership with REC Solar, according to the news release.

REC Solar was founded in 1997 and is one of the leading solar-electric energy companies in the U.S. It's headquartered in California and has offices in Arizona, Colorado, Oregon, Hawaii and New Jersey.
Here's what Tesco's Fresh & Easy says about the solar power systems to be installed on the roofs of the nine stores in Arizona, based on information provided by REC Solar:

>The systems will generate more than 410 kW of solar energy.

>The systems will produce an estimated 620,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) annually, the equivalent of reducing 22 million pounds of CO2 emissions – or removing 28 million car-driven miles – over the next 25 years.

>The solar energy systems to be installed on the roofs of the nine stores in Arizona will provide approximately 20 percent of the stores' total energy needs, according to Tesco's Fresh & Easy.

The Arizona Commerce Authority is a partner with Tesco's Fresh & Easy on the project to install solar systems on the roofs of the nine Arizona stores. The quasi-public organization, which was established in June of this year, offers various renewable energy-focused financial and tax incentives to companies doing business in Arizona for projects such as Fresh & Easy's solar system initiative, according to Don Cardon, president and CEO of the Arizona Commerce Authority.

"Fresh & Easy's decision to become more energy independent is an example of why the Arizona Commerce Authority is focused, in part, on facilitating investment in the renewable energy sector and on job creation and training. Arizona has the potential to become the solar capital of the world and lead the nation as solar demand continues to grow globally and intensify nationally," Cardon, says.

The solar systems also will provide some real cost-savings, based on the 20% per-store in energy savings Tesco's Fresh & Easy says the systems will achieve, at the nine Arizona Fresh & Easy stores set to get the units in March 2011. Look at it this way: If the average monthly utility bill per-store is $5,000, for example, the 20% reduction in that monthly expense because of the added rooftop solar system results in a savings of $1,000 per-month on the stores' cost-side. That's helpful from a bottom-line, P/L standpoint.

Installing the solar systems in the nine Arizona Fresh & Easy stores in March 2011 is also good timing for Tesco director and Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market CEO Tim Mason.

In March of next year Mason will assume the title of co-CEO of United Kingdom-based Tesco. He will remain in the U.S. as CEO of Fresh & Easy but will add a couple additional Tesco corporate responsibilities to his portfolio, according to the company. Those new global responsibilities will be in the areas of marketing/branding and corporate sustainability/climate change initiatives. The latter new area of responsibility - corporate sustainability and climate change initiatives - being the one in which the Fresh & Easy nine-store solar energy system project offers the good timing for.

Mason is gaining the new title and added responsibilities due to the retirement of Tesco CEO Terry Leahy, who is leaving the United Kingdom-based global retailer in early March of next year.

Tesco executive Philip Clarke, who's currently responsible for Tesco's business in Europe and Asia, along with corporate information technology, is taking over as CEO in March 2011. Although Mason will have the title of co-CEO, Clarke will have the CEO title and function as Tesco's chief executive officer. [See - June 8, 2010: Tesco CEO Terry Leahy Retiring; Philip Clarke New CEO; Tim Mason Named Deputy CEO But Will Remain Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market Chief in U.S.]

Installing the REC solar energy systems on the roofs of the nine stores in Arizona in March of next year, the same month he assumes responsibility for Tesco's global climate change initiatives, which is something outgoing CEO Leahy has made a major corporate focus, therefore affords good timing for Mr. Mason from a variety of perspectives, including enhancing his "green retailer" credentials. [See - December 31, 2008: 'Green' Retailing: Tesco Scores Second Overall, Number One Among Food and Drug Chains, in Ceres Coalition's Climate Change Corporate Scorecard.]

"With the success of our solar panel installation on our distribution center, we're confident these systems on our stores will help cut down on energy costs even further," Tesco director and Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market CEO Tim Mason said in the press release today. "Through innovations like these, Fresh & Easy has been able to cut back on the amount of energy and water we use, efficiencies that are better for the environment and help us keep our prices low for our customers."

Below are the locations of the nine Arizona stores Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market says will get rooftop solar energy systems beginning in March 2011:

  • Alma School & Elliot
    Chandler, Arizona
  • Crismon & Guadalupe
    Mesa, Arizona
  • Sossaman & Southern
    Mesa, Arizona
  • Higley & Ray
    Gilbert, Arizona
  • 107th Ave. & Thomas
    Avondale, Arizona
  • 19th Ave. & Baseline
    Phoenix, Arizona
  • 19th Ave. & Glendale
    Phoenix, Arizona
  • 32nd St. & Greenway
    Phoenix, Arizona
  • Camelback & 83rd Ave.
    Phoenix, Arizona

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