Grand Island store installing solar panels

Local4 News at 5
Published: Jan. 25, 2023 at 9:27 AM CST
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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - A Central Nebraska store is providing more than just alcoholic beverages, and it’s all thanks to the guy in the sky.

Wine, Beer, and Spirits of Grand Island started recycling cardboard, plastic, and aluminum cans and now they’re reducing the amount of energy they use by installing solar panels. The solar panels are being installed by Great Plains renewables in Gretna.

Wine, Beer, and Spirits started in 2020 and came to the area just one year later, with a focus on being environmentally friendly. The Grand Island store is the second of their three locations to install solar panels, and they expect it to be a huge help.

“Our solar project reduces our consumption, or is expected to reduce our consumption by about 57 percent,” said Co-owner of Wine, Beer, and Spirits, Aaron Konen. “That translates into big cost savings on our utility bill month in and month out, it’s better for business continuity.”

Konen says solar panels will allow the store to keep beverages cold even if the power goes out. The new Climate Bill allows the business to get a 30 percent tax credit for the project. Aside from the tax break, Konen says it was a smart move for the company and their customers as well.

“We pride ourselves on watching where our money goes from making smart investments in our people, in our buildings, and we think the customers will appreciate that,” said Konen. “The investments that we’re making to be more environmentally sound are financial decisions.”

Konen says the company has always been environmentally conscious and making decisions like recycling items and installing solar panels is simply the right thing to do.

“We think it’s the right thing to do for the environment,” said Konen. “More and more customers are spending money at businesses that make decisions that they agree with.”

Konen says when the company installed solar panels at the Omaha location last year and there was immediate results.

“That project went online in May of 2022,’ said Konen. “It’s the largest customer owned solar installation in the Omaha Public Power District at the time, and in May and June I saw a 80 to 90 percent reduction in our electric usage.”

Konen says similar savings are expected in Grand Island. They have seen an immediate impact in Omaha because the system turns on at the same time air conditioning is needed most. But solar expects say solar panels isn’t the only answer to reducing energy cost.

“Solar is not going to solve the entire problem if you’re looking at doing a reduction of your electric bill,” said Owner of Great Plains Renewables, Dale Luke. “You have to look at everything. You have to look at your windows, lighting, and then solar is probably like three quarters of the way down the ladder. So fix everything else then look at a solar project.”

Konen says the highest demand on the grid is in the peak of summer. That’s also when a solar power system creates the most energy, reducing your consumption and demand on the grid.

“It’s interesting that when there is the highest demand on the grid in the peak of summer it’s also the sunniest days of the year, where a solar power system is creating the most energy.” said Konen.

Konen says solar reduces the peaks and amount of times you tap into the utility grid. He hopes their project will help other businesses in the area evaluate using solar energy.