In-Depth Case Study
Antigone Books, located on Tucson’s historic 4th Avenue, has become the first bookstore in the country to get 100% of their electricity from solar power. Antigone Books joins only two other businesses in Southern Arizona, in the notable claim of being a 100% solar powered business. Interestingly, all three of these businesses are located on 4th Avenue in downtown Tucson.
A commitment to a cleaner environment & sustainability were the primary motivators for Trudy Mills, co-owner of Antigone Books, in converting her popular 4th Avenue business to derive 100% of its electricity from the sun. “We feared it would be too expensive, but found that it is actually affordable with the help of federal grants and tax credits. And, it pays for itself in a relatively short time. So, it was a good financial business decision, too. We’d love to see Arizona lead the country in solar installations,” said Mills.
Antigone’s 13.7 kilowatt (kW) grid-connected solar electric system consists of 45 SunPower high-efficiency solar modules, and is expected to generate over 2,059 kilowatt hours of electricity per month. This will reduce monthly greenhouse gas emissions by almost 4,000 pounds and conserve 890 gallons of water normally consumed with traditional electricity generation. Any extra electricity the system generates is sent back to the utility grid, allowing the businesses to receive full credit for any excess electricity production on their following month’s utility bill.
These environmental savings are directly in line with the company’s values. “We believe that global warming and water shortages are very real and very serious problems. So, our gut reason for doing “green things” stems from that knowledge,” says Mills. In addition to installing the solar electric system, Antigone Books utilizes other green practices in their business, such as energy efficient lighting, a low flow toilet, recycling, discouraging the use of bags and encouraging their employees to bike, walk, bus or carpool to work by offering incentives. They are even considering putting in a recharging station for electric cars which will be able to drink in energy from the sun while their owners stroll, shop and eat on 4th Ave.
Initially, the owners of Antigone Books thought that putting solar on their roof would not be an option, “We run a business and want to stay in business. From that angle there were two roadblocks to going solar.” They were worried about the perceived hassle and expense of installing a solar system, “so, it was a happy day when I biked by the TFS booth during Cyclovia. They explained that they do most of the homework re: cost, rebates, grants, etc. Once we could see the actual costs, we could begin to decide whether we could afford it.”
Antigone Books’ system offers a three year payback, more than a 15% rate of return, and this business is expected to save over $75,386 in utility costs over 25 years. The actions of the owners of Antigone Books illustrate that small business owners, which make up the largest portion of Arizona’s business sector, are becoming increasingly aware of the numerous financial benefits associated with solar energy.
Downtown Tucson wrote an article about the 4th Ave Solar Businesses. Read what they have to say about Antigone and TFS!