Focus on Energy: Central Waters Brewing Company taps into solar hot water

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Robyn Nowak

Hoffman York

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– Solar hot-water system is estimated to save nearly $150,000 over its lifetime –

MADISON, Wis. (Dec. 9, 2009) – Central Waters Brewing Company of Amherst, Wis., received a $25,000 financial incentive from Focus on Energy, Wisconsin’s statewide resource for energy efficiency and renewable energy, for the installation of its solar hot-water system. The renewable energy system will dramatically lower the brewery’s consumption of natural gas, reducing its operating costs and shielding it from increases in energy prices.

With 1,000 square feet of collector area and a 2,500-gallon storage tank, the system is expected to meet more than 18 percent of the brewery’s annual hot-water needs, saving at least $150,000 over its lifetime.

Every day, Central Waters’ brewing process uses about 1,500 gallons of water heated to 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Before the solar hot-water system, this water was heated entirely using natural gas. Now, the water is pre-heated by the sun to a temperature of 130 degrees to 140 degrees. A natural-gas boiler heats the water the rest of the way, dramatically reducing the amount of natural gas the brewery consumes. Central Waters also uses the preheated water to clean tanks and kegs — an energy-intensive job that requires a water temperature of 180 degrees.

“Focus has been a great partner who’s helped us along as we’ve installed the solar hot-water system,” said Paul Graham, president of Central Waters Brewing Company. “Focus paid nearly 25 percent of our costs for the equipment and installation. Plus, there’s a 30 percent federal tax credit for businesses and individuals.”

Central Waters’ commitment to energy efficiency is visible in other ways, too. In December 2008, the brewery replaced its old high-bay lighting with energy-efficient T8 fluorescent lights, paid for in part by a $1,260 financial incentive from Focus on Energy. The new lighting produces the same light output as the old system but uses 50 percent less electricity, and will save the business more than $1,000 on its energy bills each year. The annual environmental benefits are equal to offsetting the burning of more than 30 barrels of oil and preventing the release of 25,000 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere.

“As the price of natural gas continues to fluctuate and rise over time and the cost of renewable energy systems continues to fall, a growing number of Wisconsin businesses are implementing renewable energy solutions to reduce their energy costs and protect the air and water for future generations,” said Don Wichert, program director at Focus on Energy. “Central Waters serves as a great model for other businesses around the state. With a network of experts across Wisconsin and generous financial incentives to help buy down the costs, Focus on Energy can help anyone plan, finance, and install a renewable energy system.”

By supporting Wisconsin’s renewable energy marketplace, Focus on Energy has made the sun, wind, and biomass a larger part of Wisconsin’s energy mix and has helped to ensure a reliable and affordable supply of energy for the state’s residents and businesses. To learn more about Central Waters’ renewable energy system, please see the online case study at focusonenergy.com/centralwatersbrewery. For more information about Focus on Energy, call (800) 762-7077 or visit focusonenergy.com .

About Focus on Energy

Focus on Energy works with eligible Wisconsin residents and businesses to install cost-effective energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Focus information, resources, and financial incentives help to implement projects that otherwise would not be completed, or to complete projects sooner than scheduled. Its efforts help Wisconsin residents and businesses manage rising energy costs, promote in-state economic development, protect our environment, and control the state’s growing demand for electricity and natural gas. For more information, call (800) 762-7077 or visit focusonenergy.com .