After a brief negotiation with the city, Blue Springs’ East Forty Brewing is going solar, and has been benefiting from the renewable energy source for over a week.
In order to meet city code, none of the newly installed solar panels are visible to pedestrians, having been installed on the roof. However East Forty Brewing President and Founder David Mann said every inch of available space is being used.
“It’s something that’s been in the plan from the beginning,” he explained. According to Mann, the initial plan was to create an awning of solar power, but city code requires any solar panels to be hidden from view. Still wanting to bring solar power to the business, Mann installed 100 panels on the roof. While the initial goal was to lean entirely on solar power, Mann said the current array is anticipated to provide 60 percent of the building’s electricity. He said they would eventually like to reach their goal of 100 percent.
The project represents an initial invested of $50,000, according to Mann. However some of this money is reclaimed through a federal Investment tax credit, which East Forty Brewing applied for last year. Additionally, the company receives a 50 cent per watt rebate through Kansas City Power & Light. Mann explained this rebate was made available for projects installed in the first half of this year.
Thanks to the rebate and tax credit, East Forty Brewing should recover its investment in about three years.
The installation was surprisingly smooth, Mann said, with only a few finishing touches remaining.
“It was pretty quick,” he said. “I was actually very surprised at how quickly they knocked it out.”
The downtown brewery opened its doors last June and despite its youth, the solar panel installation isn’t the company’s first energy saving initiative. Mann explained the restrooms take advantage of low-flow toilets and sinks, and they recapture water from the cooling process inside the brewery. Each of the lights are LED, low energy consumption models as well, and the company strives to use low-impact, post-consumer products.
The reason for the heavy emphasis on renewable energy and efficiency stems from Mann’s background. He explained he comes from a renewable energy industry, having worked for a company involved in wind and solar energy.
“I want to try and make a difference in that regard,” he said. “We do a lot currently, and every decision I make moving forward has that component, thinking about what that impact is going to be and how to lessen it.”
Mann hopes other local businesses are inspired to make their own renewable energy changes.