Northwoods Retailer Saving Energy, Money with Focus on Energy

Dahlberg Light & Power/Superior Water, Light & Power

SOLON SPRINGS – For decades the Solon Springs Mercantile has been the place where this Northwoods community goes for what they need, when they need it.

Wisconsin’s Focus on Energy program recently shed light on something the retailer needed: a lower electric bill.

A $6,615 financial incentive from Focus on Energy’s Small Business Incentive Program quickened the return on investment to replace outdated lighting fixtures with LED (light emitting diode) technology.

Focus on Energy information, resources and financial incentives have helped Wisconsin businesses and homeowners to implement energy efficiency and renewable energy projects that otherwise would not get completed (or years sooner than scheduled) since 2001.

By saving an estimated 6.5 kilowatts (and 21,000 kilowatt hours) of electricity in the first year, Solon Springs Mercantile looks to save approximately $2,300 in energy costs.

“The switch to LED lighting in our store was the right thing to do, to reduce energy usage, limit energy bills, and showcase our merchandise in a much better way,” said owner Ken Thoreson, who bought the business in 2002. “We are excited to see the changes to our bottom line that are the result of this LED project.”

Back then it was known as Solon Springs Hardware and located in the downtown business district of the Douglas County village located 32 miles southeast of Superior. Ken and his wife, Meg, bought the business after responding to a classified ad in the Northwoods Shopper newspaper.

A fire in 2004 rendered the business a total loss. It was then the Thoresons took a gamble and moved the business closer to U.S. Highway 53 and tripled its size.

“Our retail building is only 12 years old and was built with the best products and technology at the time,” Ken Thoreson said. “We continually make upgrades to it. One of the best has been our switch from fluorescent to LED lighting.”

“Our old lights had high operating costs, maintenance expense and damaged some of our merchandise. When we investigated replacing the fluorescents with LED we contacted Focus on Energy,” he said.

“Not only was our energy advisor knowledgeable, but he was easy to work with,” Thoreson explained. “He helped us calculate the customer rebate available at the time which reduced the project installation cost by over 30 percent and he showed us that our payback period would be much shorter than anticipated.”

To complete the lighting upgrade, the Thoresons contracted with an area Focus on Energy Trade Ally, Amorde Electric of South Range.

Solon Springs is serviced by Dahlberg Light & Power for electricity, and Superior Water, Light & Power for natural gas. They are two of the 108 Wisconsin utilities that partner with Focus on Energy to help eligible Wisconsin residents and businesses install cost-effective energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.

The Solon Springs Mercantile, located at 11287 Mertzig Parkway, stocks a full-range of hardware, gifts, sporting goods, home goods, wines and spirits.

Focus on Energy helps Wisconsin residents and businesses manage rising energy usage, promotes in-state economic development and conserves natural resources. For more information on how Focus on Energy can help your bottom line, visit

About Focus on Energy

Focus on Energy is Wisconsin utilities' statewide energy efficiency and renewable resource program funded by the state's investor-owned energy utilities and participating municipal and electric cooperative utilities. Focus on Energy works with eligible Wisconsin residents and businesses to install cost-effective energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Focus on Energy information, resources and financial incentives help to implement projects that otherwise would not be completed. Its efforts help Wisconsin residents and businesses manage rising energy costs, promote in-state economic development, protect our environment and control Wisconsin's growing demand for electricity and natural gas. For more information call 800.762.7077 or visit

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