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Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT - Analyst Report) has committed to double the number of solar energy projects at its stores, Sam's Clubs and distribution centers nationwide by 2020. The announcement was made at an event with President Barack Obama on May 9. Through this global initiative, Walmart expects to stimulate the production of renewable energy to 7 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) globally every year by Dec 2020, up 600% from 2010 levels.

In addition to the on-site solar products, Walmart has committed to reduce the intensity of its energy use by 20% compared to 2010 levels. Thus, efficiency investments and investments in renewables are expected to save $1 billion a year in energy costs at Walmart.

The company has already been recognized by the Solar Energy Industry Association as the largest on-site solar user. Walmart has saved approximately 4.8 million kWh to date through its 240 solar projects in partnership with SolarCity, which installs, owns and maintains solar power systems for the company.

Walmart is well on track to reach its goal of supplying 100% renewable energy and is way ahead of other companies when it comes to the use of renewable power. Walmart now has over 300 renewable energy projects in operation or under development around the world. Besides solar plant installations, Walmart has plans to develop projects in wind, fuel cells and other technologies.

We believe that Walmart’s commitment to expand and accelerate its solar power initiative program will not only create jobs and protect the environment but will also reduce costs for local businesses by lowering electricity bills. According to SolarCity, its projects with Walmart alone have created an estimated 9,000 construction jobs in the U.S., while SolarCity alone has created an additional 5,000 permanent American jobs since it initiated its first project with Walmart in 2010. We thus remain confident that the company will continue to grow its solar energy program in the U.S. and around the world.

Walmart currently holds a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell).

Other better-ranked stocks in the retail sector include Spartan Stores Inc. (SPTN - Snapshot Report), Companhia Brasileira de Distribuicao (CBD - Analyst Report) and The Kroger Co. (KR - Analyst Report). While Spartan Stores holds a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), Companhia Brasileira de Distribuicao and Krpger carry a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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