Commercial* LSC Member
General Beer Northeast is working to consolidate operations in and around Northeastern WI, and as part of the responsible corporate strategy is looking to become more sustainable/efficient in its operations. Wherever possible, when upgrading HVAC motors, as well as lighting, and always mindful of energy efficiency it seeks to reduce its operation’s footprint. A new 300kW array on the roof of its Fox Cities office/distribution center building on the west side of Kaukauna will offset approximately 50% of the company’s current electrical consumption, reducing peak demand charges and especially facilitating summer peak shaving.
The proposed solar-PV system would displace nearly 48% of our seasonally consistent electrical load, used primarily in the warehouse area of the property to preserve sensitive and unpasteurized beverages. The PV array would be located on the central and southern portions of the warehouse roof, on the west side of Kaukauna, WI, on County Hwy. OO (Rose Hill Dr.) Importantly, General Beer Northeast, Inc. prides itself on cleanliness and safety, striving to be an exemplary corporate citizen, and paying our employees at the top of their respective pay scales. Saving money on this project will help us continue that practice. We are the only beverage wholesaler in the state to honor our union employee’s contracts, work in good faith with union negotiators (Teamsters) and always pay family-supporting, fair wages to all of our employees regardless of affiliations (beer distribution is non-union in the state of Wisconsin). This fair practice carries over into construction contracts as well, including carpenters, painters, electricians, plumbers, etc.
Focus on Energy assistance for this project is being sought to help bring the payback period down from nearly 11 years, to approximately 7.5, and lower in Year 2 with available additional tax incentives. General Beverage’s return on investment/reinvestment (ROI) threshold for new equipment and traditional hardware purchases is based on simple payback and the expected useful life purchased items. We typically look for a 2 year payback on expenditures with life cycles < 10 years, but in the case of the solar-electric production system we will double (or triple) that timeframe since we have been told to expect long-term benefits and savings from system hardware with life expectancies varying from 12 years (warranty period for the inverters), to 25 years (panels). In addition, we will generate important data helping us to evaluate similar projects we may undertake our other locations. Finally, the beverage distribution business is a very mature industry, with commensurate lower margins from most operations. In addition to paying for ongoing energy efficiency projects, including lighting and new refrigeration compressors, the company has had to
endure the slow-motion ‘taking’ via eminent domain of portions of the company’s physical site in the Verona Rd. reconstruction corridor (DOT), causing both financial hardship and delay. Through great perseverance and by working closely with the City of Fitchburg, the company has only in the past 12 months finally been assured that it could remain in its current location.
System Design and Optimization
Percent of energy from the new installation that will be utilized on site. 100% Expected useful life of renewable energy system. 12-25 yrs. Inverters are typically first to fail in PV systems and as such are only warranted for 12 years. It is understood that panels may last well beyond the warranty period, though production declines can be as much as 0.5%/year from the date of install. (See appendices for additional technical specifications.) There are no changes to building use, nor will physical improvements need to be made to the facility as a result of this project. (Roof is less than 10 years old.) On-going efficiency improvements (LED lighting, new compressors, etc.) should decrease overall electrical demand, but not enough to make any portion of this improvement redundant. Some functions south of the current structure, will be consolidated under to our physical footprint but will not interfere with production from the proposed PV equipment. Re: Methods by which the system will be optimized; Experienced solar-electric engineers will be on hand not just for commissioning, but are also contracted for optimization review after the equipment’s first year of use/production. The majority of the building’s energy demand is 24/7 due to the nature of the refrigerated beverage business. Coinciding with summer months of peak solar production is increased energy demand, though there is some springtime lag (see historic use and estimated solar generation curve in Appendices.) Energy storage would not be especially useful unless more generating capacity was added, such that energy production exceeded demand for extended periods. On the contrary, Kaukauna Electric has indicated an interest in ‘buying’ any excess production during the highest demand periods.
The new installation will include web-based monitoring, for real-time performance tracking/trouble-shooting of the system. The system would be rated at 298.9 kilowatts, and fully utilize the building’s existing electrical configuration. Using 72 cell PV modules and commercial engineered 10 degree tilt racking we could easily fit these arrays onto the existing roof. The attachments would be clipped to the standing seam metal roof and would be non-penetrating; The quoted systems includes web based monitoring capability. This can be interfaced to a kiosk in the lobby to highlight the power generated.
356,504 kWh/year saving the company’s location…Using the 50% of project kW formula to calculate demand charge reductions, the annual savings to General Beverage is estimated to be $21,137.