Innovative Alliance Creates More Efficient Conversion of Solar Power

Emeryville, Calif. - Austin, Texas based Whole Foods Market, Inc. (Nasdaq: WFMI - news), the world's largest natural and organic supermarket, and PowerLight Corporation, the leading manufacturer of commercial-scale solar electric products have teamed up with Nextek Power Systems to create an integrated on-site solar electric power and lighting system. Under the management of Princeton Energy Systems, the system was recently installed at the Whole Foods Market store in Berkeley, Calif., making it the nation's first major food retailer to introduce solar energy as its primary lighting power source. The official dedication ceremony at the store, 3000 Telegraph Ave. in Berkeley, California is scheduled for 9 a.m. on March 5, 2002.

Whole Foods Market brought together Princeton Energy Systems, PowerLight Corporation and Nextek Power Systems to create a 33kW solar electric system to power the Berkeley store's fluorescent lighting. The solar array, composed of PowerLight's PowerGuard tiles covering 2,860 square feet on the store's roof, turns the sun's free energy into usable power while increasing building thermal insulation and extending the life of the roof. These solar tiles are electrically interconnected to Nextek power modules, which feed high quality DC power to the store's newly retrofitted advanced DC lighting system. This innovative solar electric and lighting system maximizes the usable solar energy produced by the photovoltaic panels and increases the efficiency of power conversion.

"As a company actively looking for ways to help preserve our planet's natural resources, natural solar powered lighting systems made sense both from an economic and an environmental standpoint," said Ron Megahan, Regional President of Whole Foods Market. Most importantly, this initiative is helping us to further our corporate mission of preserving the environment by promoting clean energy. We are looking forward to sharing this technology with other stores throughout the country as we continue to strive to find energy from renewable clean sources.

System Benefits

Whole Foods Market's new solar electrical system is expected to create significant economic and environmental benefits. In addition to an attractive amortization period, the system will: Produce and save more than one million kilowatt hours over 25 years Results in more than 1,060 tons of CO2 emissions avoided, the equivalent of removing 285 cars from the roadways

"We're very excited to be working with our neighbor, Whole Foods Market, starting here in Berkeley. Whole Foods is demonstrating true leadership in the retail industry by committing to clean, reliable and affordable solar power,"

said PowerLight CEO Tom Dinwoodie.

"I'm so proud that these highly-regarded Berkeley businesses are working together to craft a smart energy solution that makes sense for our community and the environment,"

noted Berkeley Mayor Shirley Dean.

PowerLight's PowerGuard solar electric roof tile system was selected as the best solar electric technology application for Whole Foods Market's unused flat roof space. PowerGuard is a patented, lightweight photovoltaic roofing assembly that delivers clean solar electricity to the building while protecting the roof from damaging effects of weather and UV radiation. Additionally, the tiles provide thermal insulation benefits to the building.

How it Works

The solar array produces direct current (DC) electricity that normally has to be 'inverted' to alternating current (AC) for use by the building. In this application, the DC solar power is supplied directly, and therefore more efficiently, to a solar-assisted lighting system manufactured by Nextek Power Systems. The integration of solar electric power and DC lighting systems represents a breakthrough in linking renewable energy and lighting.

Notes Pat McLafferty, Vice President of Nextek, "When the sun is not powering the lights in the store, our system automatically draws power from the local utility.

The combination of solar power and efficient lighting, along with a newly installed Duro-Last Energy Star roof system with a solar reflectance of more than 86%, will reduce both peak and base load electricity demand. The net effect will be reduced load on the local electric substation, especially during peak summer hours.

Solar-powered DC lighting systems are the future for cost-effective retail lighting solutions," said David McManus, Project Manager of Princeton Energy Systems. It's great to be working with Whole Foods on this important, groundbreaking project.

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