Kohl’s Powers On 100th Solar Install

Kohl’s has come a long way since Max Kohl opened his first department store in Wisconsin in 1962. Publicly-traded Kohl’s Corporation now has more than a thousand Kohl’s outlets around the country, and they, like Walmart, is going solar in a big way.

The company announced it flipped the switch this month on its 100th solar installation, in Mays Landing, N.J. Solar arrays are also going in on the rooftops of seven Pennsylvania stores and by March 2011 those locations are expected to generate a total of more than 2.3 megawatts of power annually.

image via Kohl's

There’s obviously a PR element to the environmental horn-tooting that corporations engage in these days. But if Kohl’s isn’t the real deal, it sure is doing a good job faking it. Last year, Newsweek ranked Kohl’s 18th among the country’s 500 largest corporations for its environmental efforts, noting it has the “largest solar power program of any retailer globally.” And what green power Kohl’s doesn’t produce itself, it buys: The company ranked second, behind only Intel, on the list of the country’s top 50 purchasers of renewably sourced energy, with green power comprising 100 percent of its total electricity use.

“Our 100 solar locations, commitment to build 73 Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified locations and 500 Energy Star stores demonstrate our ongoing commitment to sustainability with meaningful results,” Kohl’s Ken Bonning said in a statement released by the company.

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Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.