When I asked Abe about the inspiration for the solar on the building, he said, "I thought about the daycare next to the building and wanted to do it for the future generations. I wanted those kids to see solar when they look over at the building right next to them. I wanted to do it for my community. I also wanted to reduce my electricity bill and advertise that my building has a solar system."
Photo: Abe Demmaj, owner of G & L Furniture, stands atop his new building on Lake Street in Minneapolis among the solar panels that power his business and the other tenants.
Abe was able to tap into some financial resources to make the building more resilient, including a Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) loan from the Saint Paul Port Authority’s MinnPACE program. PACE helps finance clean energy projects on commercial buildings by using a property assessment to pay back the loan. He received a $150,000 loan in September of 2020 to finance a 45 kW solar system on the roof. After an original approval for a $90,000 loan, he realized they could install a bigger system and save more money. The annual electric savings for the project is estimated at $8,300. The system was installed by Electro Solar Systems, now a tenant in the building. The project also received a $13,000 matching grant from the City of Minneapolis Green Cost Share program.
Abe is one of the many stories of the immigrant-owned businesses along Lake Street that have risen up, despite the challenges of 2020. He cares deeply about his community and has a commitment to a cleaner energy future and a stronger Lake Street.