The IKEA in West Chester is now powering its lights, operating its cash registers and cooking its Swedish meatballs using a solar energy system that is located on the store’s rooftop.
Heather Spatz, West Chester’s IKEA store manager, officially announced Tuesday the activation of the solar energy system that is expected to produce approximately 1,334,300 kilowatt-hours of clean electricity annually.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, that amount of clean electricity is equivalent to eliminating the yearly emissions of 180 passenger cars.
“We are excited to be the 14th IKEA store to do this project in the United States,” Spatz said. “This is the largest commercial rooftop (solar) operation in Ohio. On our roof we now have 128,000 square feet of solar program consisting of 4,186 panels that are generating approximately 1 million kilowatts of clean electricity annually.”
The 4,186 panels cover the store’s rooftop and could produce nearly 40 million kilowatt-hours of electricity in the next 30 years, according REC Solar senior project manager Fabian Kulynych.
“That’s equivalent to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by over 28,000 tons,” said Kulynych, whose company acted as the contractor for the project.
“In 40 years from now, IKEA will be producing its own electricity for free while electricity from fossil fuels is expected to cost five times more. These energy savings will allow IKEA to keep its operating costs down and continue to pass along competitive prices on its products to its consumers.”
The consumers shopping at IKEA Tuesday morning had no idea about the thousands of solar panels atop the store, but thought the project should be shared with the community.
“It is important to our community that our businesses are successful and if IKEA can find a way to do that then it should be communicated back to us,” Lynn Shank of Liberty Township said. “If things can be done more efficiently (with energy) I would definitely support it.”
Also, supporting the new solar energy system was West Chester Township Board of Trustees President Catherine Stoker.
“Today, we are celebrating IKEA taking another giant step forward in showing not only residents but also businesses on how they can make our environment cleaner and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels,” Stoker said. “This is important to our lifestyle and wellbeing because it allows to become more and more independent.”
An additional 23 IKEA locations in the United States have solar energy projects underway. Once completed, IKEA will have a U.S. solar presence of 85 percent.