Swope and Clark Jewelers Receive Funding to Improve Energy Efficiency | Local news

The US Department of Agriculture recently announced investments totaling $ 890,000 to help 16 Kentucky businesses improve their energy efficiency, including four businesses in Elizabethtown.

The ministry made these 16 investments through the Rural Energy for America program, which provides financing in the form of guaranteed loans and grants to agricultural producers and rural small businesses for renewable energy systems or to improve efficiency. energetic.

Locally, grants go to Clark Jewelers, Swope Enterprises LLC, Swope Hyundai and Swope Motors Inc.

The release says Clark Jewelers will use a grant of $ 8,875 to purchase and install a 15.6 kilowatt solar power system. Although the release says the project will make $ 2,106 per year in power generation, Patrick Clark of Clark Jewelers said he expects the figure to be even higher. He said the installation of the solar power system, which was completed in May, was strictly a business decision, noting that in five years the entire project could be paid for.

“In some applications, solar makes a lot of sense. In other applications, this may not be the case. But in this app for us as a small business it made sense, ”he said. “… This will essentially reduce our electricity bill by 60 to 70%. “

He said the grant covered around 25% of the overall cost of the project.

Following the USDA press release, the Swope family of dealers and Texas-based Freedom Solar, the industry leader in solar installations at auto dealerships across the country, announced their partnership to install solar power d ‘by the end of 2021 at three of the six Swope dealerships – Swope Toyota, Swope Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram and Swope Hyundai – as well as at the Swope Cars of Yesteryear museum.

The president and CEO of the Swope family of dealers, Carl Swope, in a press release from his organization, said that this would be the first solar installations at any car dealership in central Kentucky.

“All four installations will be completed by the end of the year. On average, they will offset 81% of our daily energy consumption, which includes showrooms, lots and the growing number of electric charging stations. In addition, we are evaluating the facilities of our other three dealers in 2022, ”he said in the press release.

Swope, who was named 2017 Time-Ally Dealer of the Year, said his family is taking the step because their manufacturers are moving quickly to electric vehicles and reducing the company’s carbon footprint is the right thing to do. .

“Being environmentally friendly is more and more a demand that we also see among our customers,” he said.

According to the statement, the Swope family of dealers had been considering the switch to solar power for some time, having launched their green initiatives in 2015 by working with Elizabethtown’s Daily Green Power on installing LED lighting.

Two federal incentive programs were decisive factors in Swope’s decision to go ahead with its plans to invest $ 1.5 million in solar power at the four facilities.

The first is the 26% federal investment tax credit for solar energy, initiated in 2020 and recently extended by Congress until 2022, which falls to 22% in 2023, the statement said. The Rural Energy for America grant, totaling approximately $ 285,878, awarded to Swope by the USDA also contributed to the financial feasibility of these projects. The electricity produced by these systems will provide electricity savings of $ 2.25 million over 30 years.

Together, the four rooftop solar projects include 1,900 SunPower 395-watt high-efficiency commercial solar panels, representing an installed capacity of more than one megawatt, the statement said. The systems will produce more than 828,500 kilowatt-hours of clean energy per year, enough to power more than 100 homes.

In addition, the systems will offset 1.3 million pounds of CO2 emissions each year, the equivalent of planting 9,700 trees or replacing 128 gasoline-powered cars with electric vehicles, the statement said.

The project details for each location are as follows:

• Swope Toyota, 946 solar panels

• Swope Hyundai, 454 solar panels

• Swope Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram, 400 solar panels

• Swope’s Cars of Yesteryear Museum, 100 solar panels

According to the National Automobile Dealers Association, energy costs can be a dealership’s third highest operating expense due to long hours of operation and gas-guzzling showrooms and grounds. Dealers nationwide are reporting rising electricity costs for utility companies. For these reasons, many dealers are turning to solar power to alleviate their high energy costs and ensure reliable electricity, the statement said.

In the statement, the company said Swope is also exploring the use of solar carport display areas to protect inventory from weather hazards and generate sustainable energy. The long-term goal is to be an automotive industry leader in reducing its carbon footprint, the statement said.

Mary Alford can be reached at 270-505-1417 or [email protected]

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