Renewable Energy

After investing in energy-efficiency opportunities, some convenience store owners seek further cost savings and environmental benefits by switching to renewable energy sources like solar. 

Tiger Fuel Company, which is historically a petroleum distributorship serving Central Virginia and neighboring states, is diversifying its energy offer. In 2021, the Charlottesville, Virginia-based company acquired a solar company, Altenergy, which has been rebranded to Tiger Solar.

The acquisition follows an ongoing collaboration between the two companies that began in 2018, when Tiger Fuel partnered with Altenergy to solar-power two of its gourmet-to-go convenience stores, The Market, to supply more than half of each facility’s electrical needs.

In February 2022, Sheetz announced a long-term renewable supply agreement with energy supplier Constellation to power nearly 70% of its Pennsylvania facilities with renewable energy. The solar projects, which will be developed in Pennsylvania, are expected to achieve commercial operation by January 2024.

Wawa began its solar journey in 2018 and began installing solar power canopies in 2019 at three stores to reduce fossil fuel usage and enhance the community.

Three Love’s Travel Stops in Illinois converted to solar in early 2021, giving the Oklahoma-based retailer a total of eight locations that use solar power to fuel operations. The new solar-power stores are in Hamel, Kankakee and Knoxville.

Trillium, Love’s Houston-based provider of alternative fuel systems and renewable fuels, designed and constructed the solar-power systems, which are interconnected with each Love's location. The systems will offset the electrical load consumed by the stores, and any excess power will be exported to each city’s power grid via a net metering program offered by the local electric utilities.

It is not just larger chains that are making investments in renewable energy. In 2015, Waseem Serwar installed solar panels on his two Quick Stop Mart stores in Dubuque, Iowa. The panels reduced his electric bills by 10% at one store and 5% at another, saving a combined $3,300 annually. Federal and state credits offset half of the $64,000 investment for a 10-year payback.

Federal and state tax credits and utility rebates can help reduce solar panel prices and installation costs. The North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center maintains an online Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Energy Efficiency.

Solar Power 

Solar energy is gaining a foothold in the convenience store sector for the following reasons: 

  • Harnessing the sun: After panel and installation costs are paid, at least part of the electric bill is offset with free electricity. 
  • Electricity rates: By buying renewable energy through a power purhcase agreement (PPA), retailers can lock-in guaranteed electric rates for the life of the contract. 
  • Branding/Marketing: Solar panels demonstrates that the retailer is investing in alternative energy sources and reducing energy costs.  
  • Reliability: Solar can be a reliable source of energy after hurricanes, tornadoes, or severe storms when electricity is temporarily unavailable.