The freak storm that descended on Arlington on June 29 and wreaked havoc on the region in a matter of minutes caused widespread power outages. As a result supermarkets had to rely on diesel generators that kept the stores open, but did not provide enough power to operate refrigeration equipment. So FDA embargoed all the frozen food. One HT manager estimated that tens of thousands of dollars worth of food were sent to the dumpster out back, and another employee estimated the loss to the area food stores in the millions. These losses could have been avoided had supermarkets invested in roof top solar. It has been estimated that solar panels can generate 10 to 40 percent of the power a store needs.
Newspaper accounts indicate that in other parts of the country chains like Kohl’s, Macy’s, Safeway, Whole Food, BJ’s, REI and Wal-Mart have invested in rooftop solar to cut costs by taking advantage of the surface area on the roofs of their big box stores. These stores have relied on incentives in the form of a federal tax credit to jump start the investment. But apparently the tax credit isn’t inducing area stores to invest in solar panels.
So I ask Arlington County Board whether it would consider amending its building maintenance code to require big box food stores located in the county to install rooftop solar backup generators? Not only would such a requirement further the county’s professed policy of going green, it would operate to reduce consumer panic during power emergencies and significantly reduce food waste and associated costs to grocery stores located in the county.
If the Dillon Rule prevents Arlington from so amending its code, can it ask one of its four state legislators to introduce legislation to amend the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code to mandate backup power in the form of solar generators on big box food stores?