Author: Robert Walton Published: 11/6/19 Utility Dive
- Walmart and Tesla have settled a lawsuit in which the big box retaileralleged solar panels had sparked rooftop fires at more than a half dozen stores, causing millions of dollars in damages. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
- The Nov. 4 agreement, filed in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, requests that Walmart’s complaint be “voluntarily discontinued without prejudice.”
- Walmart had accused Tesla of “gross negligence” and requested the company deenergize more than 240 solar systems at its stores. According to a statement from the companies addressing the settlement, the solar arrays will continue operating in place.
With the lawsuit settled, Walmart and Tesla will now go about reenergizing the solar systems that were taken offline. The retailer is aiming to supply 100% of its energy from renewables eventually, but currently uses around 24%.
Walmart says it has more than 300 renewable energy projects in operation or under development worldwide, and in the U.S., the company says it is the largest on-site green power generator.
So far, the company has leaned on Power Purchase Agreements to grow its renewable footprint. “We are still exploring direct investment in projects — an ownership model — that meet the company’s financial requirements,” Walmart said in a document explaining its approach to renewables.
In its lawsuit, Walmart claimed Tesla solar panels sparked fires at at least seven stores in 2018. The retailer accused Tesla of “gross negligence,” and claimed the company failed to follow “prudent industry practices” in installing, operating and maintaining its solar systems.
The lawsuit was filed this summer around the same time Tesla “relaunched” its flagging solar division. The company rolled out a plan to rent rooftop panels to homeowners in six states, starting at $50/month for a 3.8 kW system.
Tesla bought SolarCity in 2016, when it was the leading solar installer in the United States. The company’s market share has sagged since the deal, however.