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REI to Equip 10% of Its Stores with Solar Panels

May 16, 2008 - Outdoor gear retailer REI has announced plans to retrofit more than 10% of its stores with solar electric technology this year. Photovoltaic solar panels can generate up to 35% of each store's energy needs, REI says. The company estimates its solar investment will generate about 1.1 million kilowatt hours of electricity each year.

REI has selected 11 stores for solar-energy retrofits, including its green prototype store in Round Rock, Texas, which aims to test retail design and green building concepts. Seven of the locations are in California, whose Million Solar Roofs initiative offers utility rebates for commercial solar projects.

"This investment in solar technology will deliver both financial and environmental benefits, helping to contribute to the long-term strength of the co-op and support our goal to reduce our carbon footprint," says Brian Unmacht, REI's executive vice president of Sales, Service, Store Development and Logistics. In addition, "these locations will serve as a foundation for REI to determine how it approaches solar installations in the future."

REI has set a goal to go carbon neutral by 2020. Its most recent corporate social responsibility report revealed that nearly a third of the company's total carbon footprint is generated by REI Adventures, its eco-travel business.

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