Convenience store captures sun’s energy
By Mark Sherry
Karen Hennings (center) and longtime Bonde’s Quik Mart employees Bonnie Stiefvater (left) and Amy Kapelka stand near some of the solar panels gathering energy for Bonde’s Cleveland store. The inset photo shows some of the new signage installed at Bonde’s Kiel location in the past year.

At Bonde’s Quik Mart, customers will see all the usual items—coffee, soda, snacks, seven dual-axis solar trackers, sandwiches, milk...

Like the old “Sesame Street” rhyme, one of those things is not like the others— but Bonde’s Quik Mart makes a habit out of doing things a little differently for the benefit of its customers. Not every convenience store has its own bakery crew reporting to work at 4 a. m. to make everything homemade for its customers, or makes its own fresh sandwiches rather than just selling something packaged several states away.

“I tell the employees all the time we have to have the best service—otherwise why would people come?” said Karen Hennings, owner of Bonde’s Quik Mart. Bonnie Stiefvater, a 30-year employee, and Hennings’ niece Amy Kapelka, a 20-year employee, are just two of those people providing the best possible service.

But these days, some people might be coming to Bonde’s Quik Mart in Cleveland not just for the best service or the fresh food but to also take a look at the new solar energy system recently installed there.

Unusual for C-store

Hennings explained how Bonde’s Quik Mart became the first gas station/ convenience store she knows of with a solar energy system. Lakeshore Technical College is a stone’s throw from the Cleveland business (she also has a location in Kiel), and LTC helps educate people on alternative wind and solar power systems.

But in late 2010, Hennings became

Mark Sherry photos

aware of solar electric systems through Focus on Energy and Arch Electric of Plymouth. Arch Electric had testimonials on the value of solar electric systems from churches, schools and homeowners.

“It really hinged on a grant,” Hennings said and, when the grant came through, work on the system proceeded. The 19.98 kW solar (PV) electric system was installed in December. The trackers follow the sun’s path across the sky, maximizing electricity production. The trackers are located on the south side of the property and will harvest an estimated 33,689 kilowatt hours of electricity per year. The system was partially funded through Focus on Energy incentives and federal tax credits.

The environmental benefits from the installation of the PV system are substantial. 29.1 metric tons of carbon di-

Turn to ENERGY/page 5 A