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Solar Power System Offsets Electric Consumption, Promotes Sustainability

January 7, 2016 | Customer Success | Energy


rooftop solar power system Keeping a 33,000-square-foot warehouse full of icy cold beer – plus cooling a main building with 77,000 square feet – can run up an enormous power bill. And, with the cost of electricity on the rise and a commitment to promoting sustainability, Fahr Beverage in Waterloo, Iowa, teamed with Van Meter Inc. and Blue Sky Solar to install a solar power system.

solar inverters with dc power optimizers
solar pv system
solar power rate of return



A few years ago, Fahr Beverage, an Anheuser-Busch distributor, embarked on a green initiative. Management began by converting delivery trucks to compressed natural gas and installing GPS tracking to eliminate idling emissions and improve fuel economy.

Employees also recycle cans, glass bottles, shrink wrap, cardboard and paper, and they recently installed clean, cool, energy-efficient LED (light emitting diodes) lighting throughout their facilities. “We’re always looking for more effective ways to reduce our operational expenses and be good environmental stewards for our community,” said Terry Timmerman, Fahr Beverage Vice President and COO.

So, when their local power company announced a 3.6 percent rate increase beginning in August 2015, installing solar was a natural fit for the company's ongoing efforts to offset electric consumption and promote environmental sustainability.


Blue Sky Solar and Van Meter Inc. were given the task of designing and installing Fahr’s solar photovoltaic (PV) system.

The $192,520 PV system is composed of 264, 280-watt or 72.8 watts of total DC power, and three SolarEdge® 20K inverters with DC power optimizers. The solar system has already begun to pay for itself, according to Timmerman. Last year, for example, Fahr used 75,150 kilowatt-hours (kWh) in their main building and warehouse during July. This July, their total electricity usage was 1,914 kWh – for a savings of $4,126.

The timing was also ideal for Fahr to go solar, according to Raki Giannakouros, Vice President of Blue Sky Solar. “Solar panel prices are lower than ever, and system quality and efficiency continue to improve. There has never been a better time to embrace renewable energy.”

“We’re committed to advancing use of solar power in the Midwest,” said Brad Duggan, renewable energy project manager at Van Meter Inc., the Iowa-based distributor who provided materials for the Fahr installation. “Doing so requires stocking quality products, excelling at logistics and teaming up with developers like Blue Sky Solar that have the knowledge and skills to do quality installations.”

solar energy system
united states solar electric capacity  


“We had a great experience working with Raki and Brad. Their service was outstanding from before the project to after it was completed,” Timmerman said. “When you undertake a project of this size you want to work with the best, and we did.”

Although installing the PV system was a major investment, help was available in the form of substantial state and federal tax credits. The installation took less than three months and the new solar PV system went online in June of 2015. Payback is expected to take about 4.9 years.

Solar is an emissions-free technology, reminded Timmerman. He calculates that Fahr's solar system will prevent approximately 68 tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year. This is equivalent to saving 144 barrels of oil, planting 1,591 trees or taking 13 cars off the road every year the system is in operation. "Over the life of the system, this adds up to a significant positive impact on human health and the environment."

“Even at current energy prices, a solar PV system can yield a high rate of return for business owners,” said Giannakouros. “As utility rates continue to increase, the economic benefits of solar start to rival the environmental advantages. Fahr Beverage is a leader among local businesses that demonstrate their dedication to sustainability and see value in investing long-term with renewables.”

Even at current energy prices, a solar PV system can yield a high rate of return for business owners.
- Raki Giannakouros

Van Meter Inc. provides expert advice in the selection and design of solar systems and more. We welcome your call to discuss your next project. To speak with a Van Meter representative, call 1-800-247-1410 or 319-366-5301. We’ll quickly connect you with the person or information you need.

Case Study (PDF)

Fahr Beverage, Inc., headquartered in Waterloo, Iowa, has been a leading beer distributor since 1958. Over the past 50 years, the company has grown from seven employees to more than 60. Fahr Beverage distributes many of the finest lines, including Anheuser-Busch, Samuel Adams, Heineken, Pabst Blue Ribbon and more.

Blue Sky Solar is a solar energy contractor headquartered in Dubuque, Iowa. The company designs and installs solar energy systems for homeowners, small businesses and large commercial clients, as well as governmental and non-profit organizations. Their services include every major aspect of system design, installation and activation.

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