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Case Study: Bay Area Beverage Company, Richmond, CA
Case Study: Bay Area Beverage Company, Richmond, CA


Bay Area Beverage Company

PV System Size

500 kW (AC)

Array Area

140,000 sq ft

PV Surface Area

46,700 sq ft


November 2008


Sharp ND-216 U1F polycrystalline (216w STC, 190.5w PTC)

Founded in 1969, Bay Area Beverage Company, located across the bay from San Francisco in Richmond, CA, is now the largest distributor of branded beverages in Alameda and Contra Costa counties. Bay Area Beverage represents more than 20 suppliers and distributes nearly seven million cases of beer and soft drinks to over 3,000 local grocery stores, restaurants, and package stores annually.

Situation Summary

As Bay Area Beverage has grown their service area and capabilities, its power needs have also grown. To fulfill supplier requirements for temperature controlled storage of perishable beverages, and with their unique automated pallet-mixing capabilities to deliver custom orders cost-efficiently, Bay Area Beverage ("BABCO") used over 1,200,000 kilowatt hours each year - enough to power 113 California homes.

And at current electricity prices of over $0.14 per kilowatt-hour, BABCO was spending more than $170,000 each year on electricity. This cost has risen over 7% annually for decades, leaving BABCO exposed to continuing energy price volatility and with no way to get a handle on this ever-growing expense.

Solar power was not something Bay Area Beverage Company President TJ Louderback was looking for, but he quickly recognized the cost savings opportunities. The other thing Louderback recognized was that BABCO's 270,000 square foot facility needed a new roof, so he wanted a solar solution that could be integrated with the new roof and warranted for 20 years.

The Result

To meet the need, Sunlight Electric called upon Iron Ridge of Willets, CA to design a custom racking solution to mount 2,756 Sharp photovoltaic modules at a 30-degree tilt, gaining 11% more production than other low-profile solar solutions. Installed by Warren Brown Construction of Graton, CA, working in concert with BABCO's roofer, this unique solution delivers unparalleled performance with a superior return on investment.

"With the federal and state incentives, our solar project became a very compelling proposition and will provide significant savings and improved cash flow immediately," says president TJ Louderback. "These savings will help us continue to provide our customers with superior service as well as provide our community with quality jobs with great benefits for our employees."

Louderback sums it up: "For us, going solar isn't just about 'doing the right thing' it's good business as well,"

For more information about how Sunlight Electric can help your business be more sustainable, contact us at or 866-GET-SOLAR.

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Situation Summary
The Result