Ithaca/Tompkins County

Commercial Energy Now III

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7 Tompkins County Goes Solar continued from page 4 While many businesses and nonprofits encounter only minor, if any, hurdles in the solar installation process, it's not always entirely painless. Stefan Sanders is the founder of Wide Awake Bakery, a small business that uses local inputs, like flour and wood, to bake bread. e bakery installed 35 kW of solar panels in the fall of 2015. Despite reducing the bakery's monthly energy bill by 43–50 percent, however, the transition was not smooth. According to Stefan, working with the utility, NYSEG, presented the biggest challenges, including initially being billed incorrectly and complex rules and classifications that make it difficult to clearly see the month-to-month savings provided by solar panels. While he supports converting to solar power, Sanders also cautions that for small businesses with limited working capital, investing in solar energy could potentially tie up resources that might otherwise be used to expand the business. e savings on energy bills remind us of both the long-term savings from solar panels and the opportunity cost of installation. If one thing is for certain, it is this: the successes of these businesses show that a vibrant lo- cal economy and renewable energy are compatible. When asked what advice he would give to other businesses considering the switch to solar, Ed Cope of PPM Homes frankly stated, "Get going on it… it's a no-brainer." Harvesting Energy on the Farm continued from page 3 Hot water heating can be improved with measures that include: • more efficient water heaters; • heat pump water heaters; and • insulating distribution pipes. An on-farm energy assessment will also evaluate space heating and may recommend improvements to furnac- es, boilers, fans, and other mechanical equipment. LIGHT AND BRIGHT Upgrades in lighting for work, storage, retail, and restaurant spaces can improve safety, comfort, and even cus- tomer perceptions, while also reducing energy use. e latest LED technology is available in more lighting col- or ranges (bulbs and fixtures providing warmer, soer light are now common), lamp styles, and replacement options than ever before. To help offset the upfront costs, NYSEG and other utility companies offer incentive programs for lighting upgrades. To help business owners in farm-based beverage industries identify how they can cut energy use, reduce their carbon footprint, and lower utility bills, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NY- SERDA) provides free and low-cost technical services specifically for agriculture. Taitem is currently assisting four wineries assess their energy options through the free Agriculture Energy Audit Program. Contact Don Wells at Taitem Engineering to learn more about the program. PAIR IT WITH SOLAR Like a great food and beverage pairing, energy conservation combined with renewable energy maximizes sus- tainability on the farm. By first reducing the electrical demands of refrigeration and lighting, a solar photovol- taic system can be right-sized for an energy-efficient operation. is two-step approach offers the best return on investment. Like making a great beer, cider, or spirit, optimizing the energy for a farm and its facilities takes attention to detail, creativity, and technical know-how. Start with a sip and keep on tasting the benefits!

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