Granite City Bar & Restaurant Runs on Solar

One might not expect to see a Midwestern bar and restaurant on the solar map. But Eddie’s Lounge in Granite City is shining a light on the power of solar.


Eddie’s Lounge in , IL is a bar and grill that has worked its way onto the map by becoming a regional leader in clean . Jim Dunn is the proud owner, and he recently installed enough to generate all the electricity for the building. You’re probably wondering what sort of number this equates to. Get ready to be impressed – Dunn has almost completely wiped out his $15,000 annual electric bill, thanks to the power of .

Here’s some quick background information: Dunn, 69, believes his move toward solar makes sense economically. He spent many years living in Granite City but has since relocated to North St. Louis.

Solar Benefits

Dunn realizes that utility savings are not the only benefits of going solar. Dunn also plans on taking full advantage of state incentives and federal tax breaks, thanks to the 2016 Illinois Future Energy Jobs Act. Moreover, because Dunn is an environmentalist, he has a desire to lessen his carbon footprint, and recognizes that going solar is just one way to do so.

Located at 2900 Nameoki Road in Granite City, the building has, since the 1930s, housed bars. Eddie’s was purchased by Dunn more than 30 years ago, in 1981. He ended up adding a second floor and expanding the main floor over time, so the total area is now approximately 6,000 square feet. So, where does solar come into play?

If you pull up to the parking lot, you might notice four giant canopies. These are topped with solar panels. Often, people stop and stare, and some even call to ask for information on said solar panels. Not only is Dunn indirectly raising awareness about the benefits of solar power because locals end up asking if the solar panels can power the entire building, and if they reduce his electric bill, but he is providing his customers with covered parking. This is a win-win.

Eddie’s is described as a bar and restaurant with a “Cheers” vibe. It’s popular for its tacos, shrimp and chicken wings, as well as its impressive light fixtures. On weekends, there is live music, but from Sunday through Friday afternoon, it’s a standard bar and grill for locals to enjoy and listen to good music on the jukebox.

The Cost of Solar

Many are curious about how much it cost Dunn to set up the solar panels. Dunn admits the first phase of his solar installation cost a little more than $180,000 back in 2011. However, his annual electric bill has dropped substantially, from roughly $15,000 to less than $12,000 thanks to the 24 kilowatt capacity. Primarily, electricity is used for air conditioners and walk-in coolers. At the time of the installation, Dun was given a $50,000 state rebate, and he takes advantage of incentives such as a 30 percent federal tax credit.

He could have dropped his installation cost further (by roughly $20,000) had he put the solar panels on the roof of his building. But he knew the solar panels would be more visible if they were placed on the canopies, which he rightfully expected to help raise awareness about solar.

Solar Panels: Phase Two

Back in December, Dunn put in roughly $194,000 to install phase two of his solar project. This entailed setting up two more canopies with solar panels over the parking lot. Doing this added a 75 kilowatt system. The numbers are enlightening –Dunn ended up tripling the capacity of his original system.

Solar panels are increasing in production as the labor costs drop, according to director of marketing for in Collinsville, Melinda Kershaw. Day & Night Solar designed both solar systems.

More to Gain

Dunn will, once again, get a 30-percent federal tax credit (to the tune of roughly $58,300) in addition to a depreciation deduction. And don’t forget about the Illinois solar renewable energy credits, which can be purchased by utility companies ($17,800 on an annual basis for a period of five years) and a rebate of just under $19,000. The expectation is that his leftover $11,800 in yearly electric costs will be eradicated.

If you do math, here’s what you will come up with – the second part of the solar system should end up paying for itself in a period of less than three years.

Granite City locals are very supportive of Dunn’s solar power endeavor.  Keep following solar news to learn about interesting new ventures in your area!




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