Starr Automotive on Lake Street revs up savings with Energy Coach support

APRIL 2016

Starr Automotive, an auto repair shop located on East Lake Street in South Minneapolis, is one of several businesses that took advantage of the opportunity to reduce energy use and operation costs through the Small Business Energy Coaching Partnership, a jointly run program between the Lake Street Council and the Chamber of Commerce Energy Smart Program. A representative, or “Energy Coach” from the Lake Street Council and Energy Efficiency Specialists from the Energy Smart Program have teamed up to help make energy efficiency accessible to area businesses.

A family owned and operated business, Starr Auto does everything from oil changes and scheduled maintenance to engine and transmission swaps. Jerry Starr, owner and founder of the shop, emphasizes that his day-to-day business operations have always remained true to his moto: “Honest repair at a fair price.”

In 2015, Starr was approached by an Energy Coach from the Lake Street Council about the opportunity to increase the energy efficiency of his business through a variety of technical and financial assistance options. The program interested Starr because he faced multiple challenges with the lighting in his building, which was old, inefficient, and no longer sufficiently bright for his operations.

“The old lighting would get dim, and it became harder to find old ballast replacements,” says Starr. Although he was hopeful that the lighting in his shop would be upgraded eventually, Starr wasn’t sure which steps he needed to take to complete a large project. When Starr learned that the Small Business Energy Coaching Partnership would walk him through the entire process of upgrading to more energy efficient lighting, he was quick to act.

First, the Energy Coach coordinated a meeting and energy assessment with an Energy Efficiency Specialist. During the assessment the Specialist identified all lighting throughout the interior and exterior of the building that could be upgraded to energy efficient LED bulbs.

After the energy assessment, the Partnership helped Starr identify an appropriate contractor through a bid process. RJ Solutions was selected as the lighting contractor and estimated the entire lighting project to cost $7,589.

Prior to the installation, the Partnership helped Starr identify utility rebates and grants that lowered project costs by $3,759. Meaning, nearly 50% of Starr’s total costs were covered by grants and rebates. As a result of 7,727 kWh in electricity savings and $880 in savings annually, Starr’s project will pay for itself in roughly 4.5 years.

According to Starr, the lighting installed should last fifteen years and will not need maintenance or replacement for at least the next five years, saving the business time and money.

“Auto shops really depend on light quality,” says Starr. “In addition, bright lighting on the exterior of the building and parking lot is very important for providing security and deterring auto theft.”

When asked about how the new lighting performs, Starr says, “It has resulted in a ‘night and day’ difference.” The lighting does not dim quickly and provides a consistent and quality work environment for his hardworking and busy employees. In addition, the new and improved exterior lighting has brightened up the entire parking lot and prevents incidents from occurring. Although the lighting is much brighter than before, it is more directed; Starr says no complaints have come from neighbors due to brightness.

Starr is glad he took advantage of the assistance offered by the Partnership. “It is one of the best things I have ever done, and I was impressed from start to finish.” Starr described the process as a fairly simple one that resulted in minimum project costs. And, the installation process was “quick with no inconvenience.” Within a few months, an energy assessment was conducted, Starr received a cost estimate, and the installation was complete.

Starr expects savings in his electric bill immediately. Not only is Starr cutting his operation costs and energy use, he is able to continue his mission of offering quality auto repair at reasonable costs to his customers.

With pride, Starr says, “Lake Street has really come alive and is a great place to be.” The Small Business Energy Coaching Partnership is helping businesses along the Lake Street corridor improve and thrive.

Project Snapshot:

  • Annual Savings: $880.70
  • Project Costs: $7,589.17
  • Utility Rebate: $1,094.50
  • MCC Grant: $2,164.89
  • LSC Grant: $500
  • Total Funding Available: $3,759.39
  • Final Costs (minus funding): $3,829.78
  • Demand Reduction: 2.517 kW
  • Annual Energy Savings: 7,726 kWh
  • Payback: 4.5 years
case study
Download case study

We encourage reuse and republishing of this story. All Clean Energy Resource Teams stories are made available under the Creative Commons Attribution license, meaning you can share and adapt the work as long as you give us credit. We'd also love it if you link back to the original piece. Have questions or want to chat? Drop us a line.