Federal stimulus funds will help a small brewery in Milwaukee to become the third brewer in the state to use solar heat.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act helps fund a Milwaukee energy efficiency program called ME2. ME-2 is granting about $50,000 to the Milwaukee Brewing Company to help put 28 solar collectors on its roof over the next few months. Utility ratepayer Focus on Energy money will help, as well, and brewing company owner Jim McCabe is putting up cash, too. McCabe says the grants make the project viable.
McCabe says the solar heating process will supply the hot water essential to his business, and reduce his reliance on natural gas. According to Doug Stingle of the Midwest Renewable Energy Association, Milwaukee Brewing joins a small brewery and a brew pub in central Wisconsin as users of solar heating. Stingle says someday, a large brewer like MillerCoors could go solar, "It would work for all of them. They'd just need more collectors and more storage area."
Stingle says for now he's happy to see the old Wisconsin culture of beermaking team up with modern solar technology. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett says it's a winning combination for the economy, energy sector and the environment, "And in addition to that, you get great beer at the end of the day."
Barrett spoke as a national solar heating and cooling conference got underway in the beer city.