New England Chamber Helps Manufacturer Reap Big Benefits from Solar

No one needs to tell Jack Lank, President of the United Regional Chamber of Commerce in Massachusetts, how important renewable energy has become to his member companies.

Winter in New England this year is once again a bracing one that has sent energy costs soaring. Lank estimates that, across the 16 communities served by United Regional, his members are facing a 37 percent increase in electricity costs this season.

“The reality is hitting right now for my business owners,” said Lank. “Sometimes a small business owner is so buried in the details of running his operation that when they see these energy bills hit, they say, “Holy guacamole, what are we going to do now?”

But with a little help from its chamber, one member company recently became a model for how businesses can slash energy costs through renewable energy—even in the energy-intensive manufacturing industry.

Craft, Inc. is a fourth-generation manufacturer of specialty hardware that was paying  $8,000 to $10,000 a month in energy bills. But in true entrepreneurial spirit, they wanted to be more self-sufficient and generate their own power, a company spokesperson told The Sun Chronicle.

Lank took the initiative to connect Craft executives to another member business, US SolarWorks that would install approximately 1,200 solar panels on the Craft plant. The result, as the company reports on its website: “Collectively [the panels] are generating enough power to fully run our factory while still depositing energy back into the grid.”

As for the economic savings: Craft expects to break even on the investment within five years—and save $2.7 million in energy costs over 25 years—Eric Roy, co-owner an president of Craft, Inc. told The Sun Chronicle.

Their success, helped made possible by the chamber’s introduction, has already inspired four other local companies to turn to solar power, according to Lank.

“For our chamber,” he added, “the future has to be about renewable energy.”