|Catoctin Creek Distillery owner Scott Harris stands on the roof of his Purcellville business where 158 solar panels have been installed on the roof, covering almost 6,000 square feet. Times-Mirror Staff Photo/Beverly Denny|
It's been a big month for Catoctin Creek Distillery.
The owners of Loudoun's first legal distillery since prohibition completed a full-scale move to the nearly 100-year-old Case Building in downtown Purcellville, participated in Loudoun's first Epicurience and installed a large solar plant on their new roof.
Partnering with Sterling-based Prospect Solar, Catoctin Creek now has 158 solar panels spanning nearly 6,000 square feet.
"We are honored to work with Catoctin Creek Distillery, a small business leading by example in terms of sustainability," Jim Stamer, president of Prospect Solar said in a prepared statement. "The majority of their operation will be powered by a 41kW rooftop solar array that is large enough to offset the electricity of about five average households. Their business will benefit from lower operating costs, and hedge against rising utility rates for at least 25 years. All of the solar equipment to be used in the installation has been manufactured in the U.S.A. Not only does Catoctin Creek produce local spirits, but they will also be producing local renewable energy for generations to come."
Co-founder and owner Scott Harris believes the project will be profitable in the future.
“When I decided I wanted to have this solar plant, I felt that this project would be more than profitable in 10 years, because this building is in an ideal location for the solar paneling project,” Harris said. “With the building on a gentle incline and facing south, we get a maximum amount of sunlight every day.”
The project offsets nearly 85 percent of the distillery's energy usage and has the ability to return energy to the area's public grid on particularly nice days.
“The system notifies us if certain panels are not receiving light like the rest. For instance, in the morning the northeast corner is in the shade, so it only may be receiving 30 percent light,” Harris said.
Despite the good nature of the project, while renovating the case building, builders had to reinforce the nearly 100-year-old roof to compensate for the weight of the panels and the air conditioners.
Each panel is anchored to cinder blocks to keep them in place in the event of high winds.
Harris said that not many people realize the solar project is on the building, but they hope to be setting an example for other businesses.
“We are entered into the Chamber of Commerce's Green Business Challenge and hopefully other businesses will see the benefits of solar paneling,” Harris said.
Green initiatives are nothing new for the Catoctin Creek crew.
“We are always trying new ways to be good stewards of the environment,” Harris said. “We already recycle all of our waste from the distilling process by making alcohol cleanser and certified organic cattle feeds. With the new solar plant, we are able to continue this process by reducing our energy footprint."
|Catoctin Creek Distillery recycles all of their waste from the distilling process and has further reduced their energy footprint recently by building a solar panel roof that will offset almost 85 percent of their energy usage. Times-Mirror Staff Photo/Beverly Denny|
|The new solar roof at Catoctin Creek Distillery in Purcellville will reduce operating costs and hedge against rising utility rates for at least 25 years. Times-Mirror Staff Photo/Beverly Denny|