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Ikea store taps into solar energy

Burbank called one of 10 most advanced cities when it comes to solar.

April 15, 2011|By Bill Kisliuk,
  • Joseph Roth, the director of U.S. public affairs for Ikea, talks about the 1,260 solar panels that were installed on the roof of Ikea Burbank on Wednesday, January 5, 2011. (Tim Berger/Staff Photographer)
Joseph Roth, the director of U.S. public affairs for Ikea,…

The sun beating down on Ikea’s six-acre Burbank store is now producing energy to power store operations and ease the burden on Burbank Water and Power.

This week, the Swedish furniture retailer completed the installation of 1,260 solar panels covering 35,000 square feet on the roof of its San Fernando Boulevard store. The solar array will produce as much as 421,000 kilowatt-hours a year, said store spokeswoman Mary Ann Barroso, enough to power 37 homes for a year.

IKEA’s array is the third largest in the city, after those at Costco and Warner Bros. studios.

“The power is being produced at a time when the demand is highest,” said Jeanette Meyer, marketing manager for Burbank Water and Power.

Energy that Ikea can’t use will flow into the utility’s grid to be used by other customers, Meyer added.

The company will also see a reduced power bill and credits for the energy it provides to the utility.


Barroso said the Burbank store is the fourth Ikea location in the United States to go solar. The company also plans to place solar panels on its sprawling distribution center in Tejon, at the northern foot of the famed Grapevine, as well as on six other California stores.

Barroso declined to comment on how much it cost to install the panels, or how much the company hopes to save. Costco’s larger Burbank solar system produces about 20% of the energy it needs, according to Burbank Water and Power.

Ikea’s solar push coincides with state efforts to produce more renewable energy. On Tuesday, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a measure calling for California to increase its reliance on renewable sources of energy to 33% of its overall power supply by 2020 — a goal Burbank Water and Power had already established.

John Joyce, the utility’s solar support program manager, said the three big private solar fields in the city produce enough energy to provide about 1% of Burbank’s power during times of peak demand. Under state regulations, the utility doesn’t get to count that power toward the 33% goal, but it does see the demand to generate power reduced.

Meyer said the roughly 100 commercial and residential customers with solar panels on their rooftops have helped Burbank gain recognition from the Solar Electric Power Assn., a group of utilities and solar companies, as one of the 10 most advanced cities in the country when it comes to generating solar energy.

Burbank Water and Power is also getting into the solar game, with plans to install panels above a parking lot on Lake Street, between Magnolia Boulevard and Olive street, Joyce said.

That solar array will serve as a source of 260 kilowatts of power and as a shade structure for cars.
FOR THE RECORD: This amends an earlier version to clarify that the array will be able to produce 421,000 kilowatt-hours.

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