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Renew Solar Store owner Gabe Schoer, of Cottage Grove, started his green business earlier this year after discovering no local retailers sold solar equipment. The 350-square-foot space is located in the lower level of the Business Enterprise Center. (Bulletin photo by Emily Buss)

Lights on for Renew Solar at Cottage Grove's BEC

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Bright green walls inside the Business Enterprise Center’s newest space is fitting considering a new business specializes in green technology.

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Occupying roughly 350 square feet in the lower level of the BEC, Renew Solar Store is a one-stop shop for solar and energy conservation products in the Cottage Grove area.

“I thought the technology was fascinating,” owner Gabe Schoer said in an interview, adding he became interested in starting Renew Solar Store after he could not find a place in the area to purchase solar equipment. “I was at a point in my life where I wanted to give this business a shot.”

Attempting to fill a demand in the small niche market, Schoer offers a unique shopping experience which not only provides buyers with the appropriate equipment, but also pairs the customer with a certified installer.

“Bridging that gap between the customer and the contractor,” Schoer said is what sets his business apart.

Renew Solar Store sells a variety of energy efficient installations including LED light bulbs, grid and off-grid technology systems, solar water heating systems and several different sizes of solar panels. The store’s full line of renewable energy solutions can be retrofitted to commercial and residential properties, RVs, boats and off-grid homes.

Certified in off-grid battery-based design and educated by the USA Solar Store training program, Schoer said he wants to help area residents go green without breaking the bank.

“I find out what their needs are and get them met in a cost-effective manner,” he said.

Schoer also offers customers a sort of bed-side service he said is not offered by many major renewable energy retailers — personalized attention. For example, if a local homeowner decides to replace light bulbs with LED lighting, Schoer will conduct a complete lighting system assessment that helps the homeowner identify how beneficial a retrofit would be.

“It’s a lot to take in at first and it’s nice to have someone walk you through the process,” he explained.

Installing LED lights also has its financial benefits. Once customers retrofit with LED lights, Renew Solar Store will provide customers with a form to fill out and submit to Xcel Energy to receive a rebate.

The residential tax credit of 30 percent is available for homeowners on solar projects.

“It’s all about education and conservation,” Schoer said.

As a homeowner with LED lights himself, Schoer added the 25-year warranty of the bulbs have significantly cut down his energy bills.

With the store’s opening only a week away, Schoer said he expects business to accrue over time, adding he is looking forward to helping fill the needs of energy-conscious customers.

“I hope to teach people about conservation and how to lower their electrical usage,” he said. “I want to help make Cottage Grove as green as possible.”

Renew Solar Store opens Thursday, Dec. 5. The hours will be 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. Service is also available by appointment.

For details, call Renew Solar Store at 651-829-9459.

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Emily Buss
Emily Buss joined the South Washington County Bulletin in February 2013. She covers local government in Cottage Grove, St. Paul Park and Newport, along with other general assignment reporting. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and mass communications from Minnesota State University, Mankato.
(651) 459-4629
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