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Wawa Embraces Solar Power in New Jersey

Chain plans panels for more than 90 sites as it ramps up EV charging
Photograph: Shutterstock

WAWA, Pa. Wawa is making a green energy statement in New Jersey as it adds solar panels to more than 90 sites. The convenience-store chain has partnered with solar energy system provider SolareAmerica to build 93 solar installations at Wawa sites by the end of 2020, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

The first installation, a solar farm, is located next to Wawa’s Pemberton, N.J., store. A video posted by SolareAmerica on YouTube shows the ground array of 1,200 solar panels on a several-acre lot behind the store. Installed in 2018, the solar installation officially went live Sept. 10 at a press event where company officials “flipped the switch.” It will provide all the site’s electricity.

The Wawa installations will take different forms, either as solar farms installed near stores or affixed on top of fuel canopies. The canopy installations should provide about one-quarter of a store’s power, according to Wawa.

“The expansion of solar power to a total of 93 stores will make Wawa the second-largest retailer for kilowatts installed in New Jersey,” said Brian Schaller, chief real estate and fuel officer for Wawa, based in Wawa, Pa. “We will have the most solar locations of any fuel retailer of any corporation in New Jersey.”

Wawa is expanding solar in New Jersey in recognition of Gov. Phil Murphy’s clean energy agenda, which aims for the state to achieve 100% clean energy by 2050. 

The retailer is also tapping federal tax credits that cover 30% of the solar installations’ cost; the incentives begin expiring at the end of 2019 into 2022.

Wawa will own eight of the canopy installations, while SolareAmerica will own the other 85 installations. The retailer has also agreed to buy energy supplied by the panels for 20 years, and it will get credit for any excess power returned to the grid, said John Scorsone, president of SolareAmerica, Upper Darby, Pa. While Wawa is testing both approaches—owning some of the solar installations and purchasing power from SolareAmerica—it currently favors the latter approach because it does not have upfront costs, said Matt Kesling, a spokesperson for Wawa.

“We wanted to test the waters,” Kesling told the Inquirer.

Once all 93 New Jersey installations are finished, they should generate more than 10,200 kilowatt hours each year. This would place Wawa second only to Target in solar power generated by a retailer in New Jersey; by sheer number of installations, the c-store chain would be No. 1 in the state. Wawa is also considering solar installations for its Wawa, Pa., headquarters and beverage warehouse in Pennsylvania.

Wawa is embracing solar as it plans to more than double the number of Tesla Supercharger electric vehicle charging stations at its sites by the end of 2020. Some of the new locations will be in New Jersey. Wawa has 16 sites with Tesla Supercharger stations, with the newest location in Maple Shade, N.J., going live by December. The chain, which has more than 800 sitesplans to have 32 Tesla Supercharger locations by the end of 2020.

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