A Renewable Surge

by Dave on October 15, 2009

“I could go bigger than this, but I was worried about the noise and about my neighbors. You should hear the thing when it gets cranking: whoosh, whoosh, whoosh.”

Chuck Donahue sits in his office at the Lewes Fishhouse beaming about his newest addition: two wind towers and solar panels on his roof installed by Rehoboth Beach provider Clean Energy USA.

“Doing it now, with the tax incentives, the depreciation, it was a no-brainer,” says Donahue. “Electric bill’s going up, better get it in now.”

Lewes Fishhouse, a mainstay in the area since 1994, serves area restaurants along with their retail operation on Coastal Highway between Lowe’s and Grotto Pizza’s Grand Slam. But getting noticed has always been a problem for the operation.

“I wanted to have people see us,” adds Donahue. “We’ve had problems with people seeing us. Not anymore. Not with the digital sign and now this.”

“We have people come in right off the street and don’t even buy anything just to talk about the towers.”

The new additions have yet to pay off, having been in operation for just three weeks, but Donahue expects to gain a huge advantage in the offseason.

“They’re not really turning a lot yet,” says Donahue, “but they will from September through April. I think it’s the best thing since sliced bread. I think I’m really going to see a benefit in the winter.”

And the economy of the project boils down to a simple concept.

“If I can just slow that meter up, that’d be great,” states Donahue. “I have ten compressors. If I can get this (the electric bill) cheaper, I can get that out there (the seafood) cheaper, too.”

In a unique fashion, Lewes Fishhouse has turned their new wind towers into an additional marketing opportunity. Today, they will announce the names given to each of the two towers, bringing to a close a contest conducted through word of mouth and on social media to assign names to the structures.

Farther south, David Twining is in a similar situation, having decided to add renewable energy to his well-known fine-dining restaurant, Nantuckets, in Fenwick Island.

“It’s an opportunity and a chance to invest in the future,” says Twining, who has been serving quahog chowder and other delicacies along Coastal Highway since 1991.

The addition of solar panels and a wind tower at Nantucket’s was a decision made with years in mind, not the immediate payoff.

“It’s for the long term, not tomorrow,” says Twining.

The desire to go green, and the tax and financial incentives for doing so have convinced these and other local businesses to take the plunge to renewable energy. Having made that commitment, and the financial investment to install the equipment, it is understandable that each business is curious as to how quickly they’ll be able to see the power meter spinning backwards. So what are the expectations?

“I’ll let you know when it gets on line in September,” says Twining.

This article first appeared in Coastal Sussex Weekly, August 20, 2009.

Comments on this entry are closed.

[CoastalSussex] on Twitter[Coastal Sussex] on Facebook[Our] RSS Feed[Our] Email