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08/29/2013 03:42 PM     print story email story  

Beverage Distributor Big Geyser Goes Solar

SustainableBusiness.com News

We're proud that a personal friend took the initiative to install a major solar array at the company where he serves as CFO, Big Geyser.

Big Geyser is a beverage distributor based in Queens, New York, that carries products from well known companies such as Vitaminwater, Apple and Eve, and Honest Tea. It sells to thousands of retailers in the NY Metro area.

A 408-kilowatt (kW) solar system now graces the roof that will provide all the electricity the facility needs, with enough left over to charge future electric forklifts and delivery trucks. 

Solar Geyser

"As long as the sun rises, this project yields an attractive and predictable return on our investment for at least the next 25 years," says Rich Richer, CFO of Big Geyser. "As a privately owned company, we can take the longer view and look for investments of this quality."

It's really exciting to watch our system work, says Richer. "We monitor our performance online for each of our five inverters and the entire solar system.  If we under-produce during nighttime and cloudy days, the meter runs forward as we draw power from the grid.  When we produce more energy than we need, the meter runs backward as we send power back into the grid.  It works cumulatively so at any given time we could be ahead or behind - the idea being to balance supply and demand over the long term and 'break even'.  We continue to reduce demand due to the cool roof and new projects like reflective window film.  As a result we have reduced our overall demand and are running backward even though we run our business for 20 hours a day against supplying solar power for about 12 hours per day.  We hope to put the excess to use with electric forklifts and electric-powered trucks."

"Big Geyser is to be commended for not just installing enough solar power to run its factory, but also for planning for the future needs of an electric vehicle-based delivery fleet," says Francis Murray Jr., CEO of NYSERDA.

After finishing a successful lighting retrofit, the company decided to pursue solar to further cut energy costs. They also got a cool roof as part of the package. 

"We expect our cool roof to enhance solar output while reducing air conditioning kilowatt hour usage by keeping the roof very close to the ambient temperature during the cooling season," says Howard Ehrenshaft of Energy Conservation Group of America, who did the lighting retrofit and put together the solar package.  

Installed by EmPower Solar, Big Geyser received funding assistance under the NY-Sun Initiative from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).

The goal of NY-Sun is to double solar installations in 2012 from the previous year, and to quadruple them in 2013. Legislation expected to pass in the next session would fund the program  at $150 million a year for the next 10 years, facilitating as much as 2.2 gigawatts of solar in New York state. The state has also adopted solar tax exemptions.

Read our article on Governor Cuomo's plans for cleantech that he outlined in his state-of-the-state address.



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