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May 20, 2011

Solar R Us

Toys2 When clean-energy supporters hear that one corporation plans to add 5 MW of solar on one facility, they turn into kids in a candy store -- or, in this case, a toy store.

Toys "R" Us recently announced that it will build what may prove to be the largest single solar rooftop installation in North America. The toy giant plans to plop 20 acres (!) of photovoltaic panels on the roof of the company's largest distribution center, located in Flanders, New Jersey. That's more than 869,000 square feet of solar on the roof of a facility that spans nearly 1.3 million square feet. It will generate almost 5.4 MW of renewable energy, or just below 70 percent of the building's needs.

"Generating the same amount of electricity using non-renewable sources would result in the release of an estimated 4,387 metric tons of carbon dioxide, the equivalent emissions from 860 passenger vehicles or that of the electricity used to power 532 homes annually," Toys "R" Us said in its statement.

This isn't the toy maker's first splash in solar. Early last year, it placed panels on top of a Babies "R" Us in North Brunswick, New Jersey. Another project is planned for its store in Secaucus, New Jersey.

All these mentions of New Jersey shouldn't come as a surprise. Earlier this month, we pointed out that the Garden State has a notorious market-friendly system in place for solar manufacturing and installation. The state has become a leader, and a catalyst for other states in the Northeast looking to shape up. Last year, New Jersey installed "more than 25 MW per quarter in the first three quarters," and more than 50 MW in the last quarter. Thanks to the state's implementation of energy credits that are bought and sold, and a renewable standard of 20 percent by 2020, businesses are taking advantage, spurring green jobs in the process.

-- Brian Foley

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