Imagine walking into your local store, picking out the wind turbine or solar panels you want and, in a matter of weeks, start reaping the savings on your electric bill. Or, maybe, think of the day when instead of pulling up to the gas pump, you pull into the garage and plug in your electric car.
Jack Shonkwiler says that day is here.
Shonkwiler is the operation advisor for SuperGreen Solutions, based in West Palm Beach. He was in Warwick last week for the grand opening of Rhode Island’s first SuperGreen store located at 300 Quaker Lane. The store sells a variety of energy efficient products, including wind turbines; not that you can walk in, put one in a shopping cart and head home.
“These are systems for everybody who wants to use energy and wants to save money,” said Shonkwiler, pointing to an array of products either pictured or displayed in the plaza anchored by Stop & Shop and the Christmas Tree Shops. The store is at the Stop & Shop end of the plaza not far from Citizens Bank.
SuperGreen, which got its start in Australia, serves both businesses and residences. The company will perform an energy assessment before suggesting means of conserving energy and recommending the products to do it.
While wind turbines and solar panels come to mind as the “green” thing to do, Shonkwiler said one of the quickest paybacks is lighting. Businesses and homes using more than 40 hours of light a week can expect to see a 30 percent reduction in their lighting bills with the conversion to LED lighting.
Another product offering rapid returns, he said, is the tank-less hot water heater. These wall-mounted units, which are commonplace in Europe and other parts of the world, only go on when there is a demand for hot water.
It is the plug-in car, however, that Shonkwiler sees as revolutionizing energy use in this country. For as little as $200, SuperGreen sells a unit that can be installed in a residential garage. Of course, it’s going to be of little use if there isn’t an electric car. Shonkwiler thinks that market will develop as the cost of gasoline increases and people realize the savings of electric cars. More immediately, he see SuperGreen selling to entrepreneurs looking to get into the ground floor of electric cars by constructing “charging” stations and businesses converting their fleets to electric. He imagines a time when people will be able to recharge their vehicles while doing their grocery shopping or working out at the gym.
SuperGreen was started as a franchise in Australia by Sean Cochrane and has since been acquired by United Franchise Group. The Warwick store is one of five in this country, but not for long says Robert Cagnetta.
Cagnetta owns the Warwick franchise. His decision to go with SuperGreen was a natural fit with the work he does, apart from the fact that his brother, Andrew Cagnetta Jr., is on the leadership team at United Franchise Group as owner and CEO of TransWorld Business Advisors, who urged him to consider the opportunity.
For the past 20 years, Cagnetta has owned and operated Heritage Restorations. Much of the work at Heritage involves window and door replacement, insulation and modifications to older homes to make them more energy efficient. Cagnetta saw SuperGreen as taking the process a step further, a holistic approach that he doesn’t see much of in this country.
National Grid, he said, offers energy audits and recommends measures to save on energy. SuperGreen takes a similar approach but, because of its partnerships with the manufacturers of energy saving and generating products, it is able to generate savings for the buyer. What SuperGreen will do, in addition to performing an assessment, is to provide competitive pricing and develop plans as well as offering financing options.
A plan is viewed in terms of how long it will take for energy savings to pay back the initial investment.
It goes beyond that.
“It can lead you to having a positive net income,” said Cagnetta. He pointed out that wind turbines and solar panels can produce excess electricity that reverses electric meter readings.
Before launching SuperGreen in this country, United Franchise opened a Florida store to see if it would work. Cagnetta said an installation with an automobile dealership was especially successful and the overall experience led to the decision to expand. Cagnetta said SuperGreen would open five more stores in this country over the next month.