Taking steps to embrace clean energy has helped Bounce Milwaukee’s bottom line, branding and employee buy-in, co-owner Becky Cooper said during CUB’s Small Business webinar earlier this month.
The Oct. 6 webinar, “Clean Energy Transition: What Does It Mean for My Small Business,” featured Maria Redmond, director of the Wisconsin Office of Sustainability and Clean Energy, Tom Content from CUB and Cooper from Bounce Milwaukee as panelists. Scott Coenen of the Wisconsin Conservative Energy Forum served as moderator for the webinar.
The webinar is one of three planned for small businesses, at a time of rising energy costs, during Energy Awareness Month.
The webinar is the first of three during Energy Awareness Month focused on small businesses. The next webinar is set for noon on Thursday, Oct. 20, and will be hosted by the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council. It will feature leaders from a variety of businesses showcasing their experience with generating their own power from solar energy.
Redmond discussed the business opportunities in the clean energy space for small businesses that are opening up with the transition to cleaner energy sources.
Wisconsin’s clean energy plan calls for a multi-sector approach designed to capitalize on the large influx of federal dollars coming to Wisconsin and help position Wisconsin for opportunities, and that businesses can play a lead role to help reduce the billions of dollars Wisconsinites pay every year to import energy from other states, said Redmond.
“We want to accelerate clean energy technology deployment; maximize energy efficiency, reduce that energy demand in the state; modernize our buildings and industry; and innovate in transportation,” Redmond said. And the state is looking to aid businesses with the workforce opportunities expected to materialize from the energy transition, she said.
Content discussed key steps that are needed from a policy standpoint to help create a more affordable energy transition, including legislation and policies to enable greater savings on retiring coal plants, legislation that would change the way Wisconsin PSC vets utilities’ clean energy transition plans. He highlighted the new Inflation Reduction Act and the need for Wisconsin to create a “one-stop-shop” approach to accessing federal rebates, preferably through the state Focus on Energy program.
Cooper from Bounce Milwaukee, a CUB small business member, discussed how she and her husband, Ryan Clancy, as co-owners of Bounce Milwaukee found it could be “paralyzing” to know where to start on the sustainability path when they first opened their Milwaukee entertainment venue in 2014.,
They committed to just get started, using the motto, “Anything is better than nothing.”
Since that time Bounce has implemented a whole host of changes, from electric ovens that required no natural gas and no vent system, 120 solar panels, a high-efficiency dishwasher and Tesla and EV charging station, as well as electric vehicles to delivery their “solar powered pizza” to customers. Along the way they created an employee green team and saw great buy-in and employee retention from paying people well and empowering them, Cooper said.
“The green team looks not just at environmental issues, but efficiencies in how we run our business as well, so we can make better decisions for this business as a whole,” Cooper said. “That helps profitability, and these things pay off in a very real way.”
Panelists encouraged businesses just getting started on a clean energy project to check out:
- Focus on Energy’s business resources, including its business assessment tool;
- Financing oppportunities through the Wisconsin PACE clean energy financing program;
- resources from the Office of Clean Energy and Sustainability;
- CUB’s resources on the new Inflation Reduction Act; and
- The federal funding opportunities portal created by the Office of Energy Innovation at the PSC.
CUB appreciates the support of its promotional partners for its series of Energy Awareness Month webinars. That includes Wisconsin Focus on Energy, Wisconsin Conservative Energy Forum, Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council, Midwest Renewable Energy Association, Renew Wisconsin, Vernon County Energy District, the Wisconsin Energy Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Wisconsin EcoLatinos and B Local Wisconsin,