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Local Grocery Store is Installing Over 600 Solar Panels

When you think of the Merc Co-op… green, healthy, and local are some of the things that come to mind.

In addition to being good for your health, the Merc is now taking steps to help environment.

That’s because the grocery store is installing 688 solar panels to power the business.

“Demonstrating care for the environment, so it’s something that really matters to our owners,” said Rita York Hennecke, general manager of the Merc.

It matters about $1,200. That’s the average cost of each solar panel. Since the Merc is leasing the panels, they won’t receive a tax break, but will be able to pay them off over time.

“The payments are going to be a fraction of what we are going to be paying in electrical bills and with our electrical bills coming down, it will really help offset that cost,” said Hennecke.

Hennecke says that even with all of these panels, the grocery store will not be able to completely run off of solar energy.

“Grocery stores are big energy hogs; we use more energy than most building types because of the demands from the refrigeration, the lighting, the heating and the cooling. So when this is all said and done we will have about a third of our energy needs from renewable energy,” said Hennecke.

The average monthly energy bill for the Merc is almost $10,000. After the panels are up and running, the bill will be around $7,500.

Even though the panels use solar energy, cloudy weather shouldn’t be a major factor.

“The cloudy days, the snowy days, and the sunny days have all been factored in,” said Hennecke.

The rooftop solar panels will go into service by the end of this year.

The next phase will consist of installing carports with solar panels on the parking lot. That is scheduled to begin in the summer of 2018.

The Merc says it will take 17 years to pay off all the panels, but it is worth it in the long run.