ROYERSFORD PA – Limerick (PA) Township may soon be the latest local example of how solar power can shine as an alternative energy source, as the Kohl’s Department Store, 989 S. Township Line Rd., Royersford PA, prepares to outfit its roof with an array of solar panels to generate electricity for its own use.

The Lakeview Shopping Center, South Township Line Road, Royersford is shown in a Google satellite image, with an inset photo of the Kohl's there.

Township Manager Daniel Kerr told members of the Board of Supervisors, during their meeting Tuesday (July 20, 2010) in the municipal building, 646 W. Ridge Pike, that representatives of Kohl’s last week had applied for a building permit to install equipment that will gather and convert the sun’s energy into usable power intended to reduce the retailer’s energy costs.

Moving away from traditional energy sources, and increasing reliance on alternatives, as been a Kohl’s corporate mission for several years. Just five days earlier, on July 15, the Wisconsin-based company announced the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy had awarded a 500th Kohl’s location with an Energy Star designation. The label is granted under specific standards to acknowledge a commitment to energy management and efficiency.

In its press release, Kohl’s estimated it has already saved almost $50 million in energy efficiencies wrung from its stores during the past four years.

If the Limerick permit is granted and the work at the Royersford store completed, it would join other Kohl’s locations in California, Colorado, Wisconsin, New Jersey, Maryland, Connecticut, California and Oregon using solar-generated energy from its rooftop and other sources. Kohl’s claims it is the largest retail host of solar power, and that its distributed solar program is the largest in the world among retailers.

A Kohl’s executive vice president, in a Business Week magazine interview regarding the company’s earlier solar installations, said an array like that planned for the Royersford rooftop in the Lakeview Shopping Center may not earn an immediate return on its investment. As the cost of oil rises and utility prices increase, however, the retailer should continue to enjoy significant savings over 20 years, he noted.

Although Kerr did not disclose the specifics of the Royersford Kohl’s building permit application, similar installations on a typical Kohl’s store of 88,000 square feet reportedly have involved more than 2,300 solar panels. A 2008 Kohl’s estimate said its average solar panel installation provided “30 percent of a store’s annual energy, or enough to power 54 homes annually.”

Kohl’s also last week announced that beginning in Spring 2011 all its newly constructed stores will be designed to qualify for Energy Star designation.

Related (to the Limerick Township Board of Supervisors’ July 20 meeting):

Satellite map image from Panoramio; Kohl’s store inset from LoopNet

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