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Ypsilanti's Corner Brewery to derive all brewing water from solar power

Fall's the season for leaf peepers – and solar gawkers. And the National Solar Tour in Ypsilanti this Saturday has the Corner Brewery on its map.

Last week the brewery started the installation of 144 solar panels on its property. A solar awning is currently underway; the rest of the panels will be installed on the roof over the next couple of months, says Matt Greff, co-owner of Corner Brewery and Arbor Brewing Company.

"The whole array will be completely up and running and working as hoped before the end of the year," Greff says.

The panels, a hybrid type that can generate both electricity and hot water, are manufactured by Detroit-based Power Panel. "We're going to derive 100 percent of our brewing water from the sun," he adds.

The panels are expected to generate over 20,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year and the thermal energy equivalent of over 330,000 cubic feet of natural gas per year, saving about $6,800 in energy costs annually at current energy prices, according to Jarett Diamond, sustainability director at the Corner Brewery.

"It's actually an environment right now where renewable energy makes financial sense for small businesses," Greff explains. "As prices continue to come down, as incentives become available, it's not just a feel-good, do the right thing situation anymore, because it's pretty expensive to feel good and do the right thing if you're not getting a payback."

A good portion of the $150,000 cost will be offset with incentives from DTE and a 30% federal tax grant, says Greff. The brewery is looking at a seven-year payback period and hopes to cut energy bills by 30-50%. A separate, but similar project will get underway later in October, with the installation of about 100 solar panels at the Arbor Brewing Company in downtown Ann Arbor.

California-based Sierra Nevada and New Belgium in Colorado are the best-known examples of tapping into the green trend, but they're mega-breweries by comparison. To Greff's knowledge, the Corner Brewery and Ann Arbor Brewing Company are the first solar-powered breweries in Michigan – and likely in the midwest. "It's still extremely cutting-edge."

Source: Matt Greff, co-owner of Corner Brewery and Arbor Brewing Company; Jarett Diamond, sustainability director, Corner Brewery
Writer: Tanya Muzumdar
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Related Company

  • Arbor Brewing Company
    114 E Washington
    Ann Arbor, MI 48104 Website
    Arbor Brewing Company is a microbrewery with operations in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti. It is currently expanding by creating franchises in India.