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Fri, Sep 19, 2014

LOGUE: Walgreens takes innovative step installing solar panels

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Here’s a bright idea that might not have thrilled Thomas Edison, but it is inventive and indicative of the innovative spirit not always associated with America anymore.

A Walgreens drug store is going totally off the power grid and generating its own energy.

After installing 800 solar panels, two wind turbines and geothermal technology, the store will produce 28 percent more electricity than it needs.

That’s 220,000 kilowatt-hours of juice each year.

This particular Walgreens is not in New York or Los Angeles. It’s in Evanston, Ill.

Instead of a wealthy individual making the conversion in order to profess his or her own environmentalist philosophy, a major American corporation is taking the lead in self-sustainability for once.

Apparently, someone in Walgreens’ executive suites has come to realize that the investment in the hardware on the front end will pay dividends and result in savings for years to come.

In fact, Walgreens has made other sustainability moves at other stores, installing solar panels in 150 locations.

The company also has put energy-efficient lighting and energy monitors in several locations.

Now, in Evanston, the national chain seems to pouring all of its energy-saving resources into one store to see if it can operate totally independent of the local electric utility.

It’s hard to believe Walgreens would have taken this quantum leap without doing an extensive cost-benefit analysis first.

There’s an additional benefit beyond any cost savings to the company or easing the strain on the environment.

If a drug store, particularly a 24/7 drug store, is energy-independent, that means it could stay open to serve the public during any sort of natural or man-made disaster.

Can you imagine how beneficial it would be to have pharmaceuticals available to local physicians and hospitals in the event of catastrophes ranging from floods and hurricanes to terrorist attacks?

Potentially life-saving technology, especially technology dependent upon electricity, frequently is not available to anyone except law enforcement and emergency management personnel during a disaster.

Telephones go out and cell towers are so jammed with calls that smart phones don’t seem so smart.

Computers that aren’t battery-operated go down, and battery-operated laptops and tablets must be recharged at some point.

Suppose the calamity is bacterial instead of weather-related or warfare-related. If some sort of illness sweeps the countryside, wouldn’t it be reassuring to know that the pharmacy would not let us down?
If all this seems like paranoid doom and gloom, remember that the 9/11 Commission found that one-third of radio communications during the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on America were either unintelligible or incomplete.

Hospitals long ago realized they need their own backup power systems because they become focal points when massive hardships strike.

In the days of westward expansion, self-sufficiency was not only considered smart. It was essential for survival.
We as a society have deluded ourselves into thinking that, because we have a sophisticated infrastructure, it is impenetrable.

One look at your television screen when the cable goes out during a thunderstorm should be plenty of proof to the contrary.

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energy, gina logue, solar, walgreens
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