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Renovated car dealership could be start to green Fuquay-Varina

Posted July 13, 2009

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— Developers hope the environmentally-friendly renovation of a landmark car dealership could be the start of a green revolution in Fuquay-Varina.

Eric Christofferson is renovating the old Mitchell Chevrolet dealership in downtown. When Mack Mitchell opened the building 60 years ago, it was the first Chevrolet dealership in southern Wake County.

"We knew this was an important building to the downtown area," Christofferson said.

Developer aims to make Wake County's 'green mecca' Developer aims to make Wake County's 'green mecca'

He and his wife bought the dealership several years ago and are working to renovate it into The Mitchell, a downtown retail and restaurant space.

The couple quickly decided to go green with their building project, in particular using solar energy.

"We found out about with these flexible solar panels and decided to go with them," Christofferson said.

The couple took advantage of a 35 percent state tax credit – "one of the best in the nation" – and a 30 percent federal tax credit to build the system, he said. Those credits and others will allow the solar panel system to pay for itself in 5 years.

The panels will connect to the power grid, and Progress Energy will pay the Christoffersons for the 10 kilowatts of sun-generated energy.

"Those monies will go back into the building and benefit the tenants," Christofferson said.

Town leaders said they hope the project will be the start of a greener future for Fuquay-Varina.

"There's a lot of older buildings along this route," said Ron Tropich, executive director of the Fuquay-Varina Chamber of Commerce. "If they could do it here, other buildings could do it and renovate there."

The Mitchell is slated to open in the fall, and its first tenant will be a wine bar.

The Christoffersons hope they'll draw other retailers who will give an environmentally-friendly boost to the town.

"There's a great effort here to revitalize downtown," Christofferson said. "It would be nice if Fuquay-Varina became known as the green mecca of southern Wake County. It's a possibility."


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  • whatusay Jul 13, 2009

    k-cfoxie....sorry, but you can't store this energy. You either use it or lose it. When there is no sun you have no power. Solar energy can heat water, which will cool down as the sun goes down and you might have enough warm water for a quick shower in the morning. Don't be fooled thinking solar power is the answer, it's not. You will never recoop your investment in savings by converting to solar. Like to watch TV, not with solar, no sun a night. Some electricity produced during sunlight days can be used to help run some appliances but again, the programming and equipment to convert over to municipal electricity when it runs out makes it too expensive. That is why this business is selling the excess electricity created by the panels, because you use it or lose it.

  • kcfoxie Jul 13, 2009

    All homes and businesses should be generating some amount of their own power, even if it's only enough to power the home for an hour or two in a black out. You take 1-2 hours of complete power generation and multiply it by the number of buildings and suddenly you don't need to generate a lot of megawatts with coal or nuclear.

  • ObamaMustGo aka NCcarguy Jul 13, 2009

    so they somehow think that "TAX CREDITS" equal a savings to the TAX PAYER!!! that's just amazingly funny! Once again you all are going to get a chance to enjoy more of that CHANGE you voted for!!!

  • NCPictures Jul 13, 2009

    This is all fine and dandy... but they are renovating an empty building. It will be up to them to FILL it in order to make any money so they haev any hope of some payoff.

    To be honest, I am all for conservation... but I am tired to DEATH about everyone being "green". Most of it is marketing hype, and the sad part is that most people are falling for it.

    It is just common sense folks.

  • DeathRow-IFeelYourPain-NOT Jul 13, 2009

    All I can say is, its neat. But I'm not convinced it can save money. Funny how we have not seen the numbers on the solar panel systems in real life installations. They have to consider the cost plus the maintenance over a 5-year, 10-year, and 20-year time frame. Then figure in the savings. Once its all added up, figure your costs for a traditional electrical installation and the electrical bills over that timeframe. I'm still skeptical. You probably would be fortunate to break even. Then god forbid if the system needed much unscheduled maintenance.

  • whatelseisnew Jul 13, 2009

    "Those credits and others will allow the solar panel system to pay for itself in 5 years." Sorry but that is wrong. These people will recoup the partial amount that they paid. The rest will be paid by future generations of tax payers.

  • clayt85 Jul 13, 2009

    Is it not misleading to include nuclear power in a list of renewable energy sources? Uranium/plutonium are subject to the same constraints as coal/oil: they must be mined and are in limited supply. Storage of wastes is still a major problem as well; that technology is no more developed than advanced fuel cell technology as far as I know.

    I have no research or anything on solar panel costs/returns/etc, but I support what the Cristoffersons are doing. It seems to me to be quite a waste that we have millions of rooftops in the Triangle area which could all be wired to a grid. The result may not currently (and for that matter, may not ever) completely offset total energy use, but it would revolutionize US energy production/consumption.

  • rdcress Jul 13, 2009

    I'm not sure where they got their calculation but with only 111 days of Sun on avg. here in NC and a 6 hour production day, even with the tax subsidies a 5 year payback is pretty much impossible. No speculation here on the overstated payback, I just finished a study for installation of the flex panels at an industrial site. Lots of warm and fuzzies and some really good p.r. but no chance of a reasonable payback over the lifespan of the panels which by the way have diminishing output beginning at the time of activation. Nuclear is a much more cost effective way to go and with the current spent fuel recycling technology now available a very environmentally friendly way as well.

  • anti-Hans Jul 13, 2009

    charlesboyer - I dont really have a comment on your post but your picture rocks! Silence!

  • likemenow Jul 13, 2009

    Most forms of solar ARE extremely inefficient..some are actually approaching the cost of traditional energy sources. The costs of traditional energy sources are also helped by enormous subsidies. Remove the subsidies and guess what?..Bingo