Charlottesville gas station chain makes unexpected bet on solar power

In most places, weather forecasters are putting out business data that wants to embrace solar power making it impossible to put a company called Tiger Fuel at the top of their list.

But it is a different story in Charlottesville.

Not only Gordon Sutton, president of the oil company, is coming to the spotlight by adding roofing panels to a series of convenience stores and gas stations. It is also improving solar power by purchasing Altenergy, a Charlottesville-based developer who designed and installed those systems.

“The fossil record is changing,” Sutton said in an interview. “As it changes, I see this as an opportunity to strengthen our company and create new jobs.

“If people trust us to generate energy in the past, I hope they will do the same as we do in the future.”

The far-reaching acquisition was announced Wednesday in partnership with the Community Climate Collaborative of the largest Green Business association.

Charlottesville-based C3 has hired Tiger Fuel and 15 other companies to reduce heat-emitting emissions by 45% over the next five years. Each candidate starts with a different foundation.

Democrat Gov. Ralph Northam attended the inauguration ceremony at the Charlottesville campus of Sentara Hospital Martha Jefferson, the largest – in size and carbon footprint – of 16 members. They all have their roots in central Virginia.

The campaign is not a strategy, it is a good campaign by the founders’ union. C3 began consulting with business leaders 18 months ago, selecting those who are highly targeted. The requirement of the partnership allows C3 analysts to spend more time in the three-year supply chain, to determine where and how energy efficiency can be improved. The charity has become the de facto main development consultant.

“We are calculating because what is measured, is fulfilled,” C3 Executive Director Susan Kruse said in an interview before the release. “We all have obstacles. Our question is, how do we overcome them? ”

The partners also include Carter Myers Automotive, Inoor Biotechnologies, Red Light Management, WillowTree, Harvest Moon Catering, Quantitative Investment Management and accounting firm Hantzmon Wiebel; cleaners Apex Energy Cleaner, Solar Sigora and Sun Tribe Solar; and the Private Center, the Legal Aid Center and the CFA Center.

C3 is adamant about creating a program that applies to small businesses because those with up to 500 employees are the backbone of Virginia’s workforce. They are key players if Charlottesville and surrounding Albemarle County will cut global warming by 45% (based on 2011) by 2030.

“This is not just a business,” Kruse said. “These people are leaders and they have a lot of respect for the society. They don’t want to say they can do something on nature and then they won’t. They are responsible and take these promises very seriously. ”

What caught the governor’s attention was the possibility that Charlottesville leaders expressing support for climate change commitments could influence their counterparts to repeat the same pattern across the state.

“Obviously it’s a collaboration,” Kruse said. “We didn’t order them to leave.”

She is aware that many communities are rolling on the work of climate change because good intentions and good research can never be a good plan.

Researchers from the Brookings Institution, Washington, D.C., investigators, recorded this failure in the October report “Promises and Progress”. Their 2017 data analysis shows that of the 100 most populous cities in the United States, only 45 have developed a greenhouse gas and air conditioning scheme. Charlottesville is too small to be included in this study.

To keep participants on track with objectives, C3 provides each different business report and updates them annually.

“We’re about building relationships and building trust,” Kruse said, adding that entrepreneurs don’t always share their energy with the weather team. “We respect that they allow us to help.”

‘It’s time — let’s do it’

‘It’s time — let’s do it’

Gordon Sutton admits that it was a problem to dig up bank accounts in a store to expose the collection of money C3 was seeking.

“But I don’t want to leave them because I believe in what they do,” he said of Kruse and her colleagues. “I hope the partnership will show other business leaders that if we can do it, they can.”

The 42-year-old has sometimes wondered how Tiger Fuel has progressed since his father-in-law, David, persuaded his client to buy a “rinky-dink” seller forty years ago. Since they were teenagers, Gordon and his younger brother, Taylor, have pumped, checked the oil, and cleaned the glassware while the company is bleeding more than the service and delivery stations.

Both brothers think these days are in the mirror of vision after graduating from the University of Virginia and heading West for more teachers, more work, and relaxation in the forests of Wyoming and Colorado.

By 2009, Gordon was back in Charlottesville and was working in this oil business whose father moved to the Sutton family business. Taylor joined the ranks two years later. They immersed themselves in its importance. When David retired in 2017, Gordon became president and Taylor, chief operating officer.

Today, Tiger Fuel distributes oil and gas and the brothers take care of the oil network, car wash and convenience stores.

Perhaps it is not surprising that Gordon, a senior historian who also received a Master of Business Administration, and Taylor, an environmental scientist, began conversations with solar energy experts about five years ago. They think the arrays will be more appropriate when the prices on the parties and the federal tax numbers are adjusted to suit their budget.

By 2018, investing has become more meaningful.

“It’s time – let’s do it,” said Gordon Sutton of about 17.5 kilowatts of Altenergy installed at the top of one shop and two canopies supplying gas pumps at the end of the year. “Our customers will receive sunlight and it’s a great way to differentiate ourselves.”

This first transaction, only, is the end of the proverbial group. The Sutton brothers, with the intention of expanding, studied direct sunlight. Gordon admits he was a little surprised in 2018 when Altenergy answered his questions about forming a partnership.

Fast forward to March 2020. Just as the coronavirus virus began to dominate the common bandwidth range, Altenergy and Tiger Fuel signed a acquisition agreement.

“COVID could easily break off the deal,” Sutton said. “It’s scary and it’s kind of a miracle that everyone put themselves in the cold.”

Purchase of Tiger Fuel for Altenergy’s Charlottesville and five branches in Staunton, Virginia; Idaho; Michigan; and Maryland / Washington, DC, means Sutton will add 50 solar-powered employees to its 300-strong workforce. Altenergy, founded in 2004, has completed 1,700 projects — with total solar power at least megawatt 42.

Soon, another 500 kilowatts will dominate car washes, shops, shops and many more. Tiger Fuel will cover 100%, but not all stores can support the product and the company does not own land in all 11 stores.

Hospital weighing renewable options

Hospital weighing renewable options

The Biden government is in the middle of setting major climate policies and Virginia has surprised many long-term observers with its efforts to re-emit emissions in the transportation and electricity sectors along with Virginia Clean Cars and Virginia Economic Law.

A separate signed Northam bill has changed the name of the Commonwealth Energy Policy to a Commonwealth clean energy system. That may seem insignificant, but the level of Sen. Barbara Favola emphasizes only last year’s victory law which modernized politics with the number of hands and feet of candidates.

The Arlington Democrat 2020 plan sets the ultimate goal for Virginia to reach the economy — everywhere, by air emissions by 2045 in power, transportation, industry, agriculture, construction and infrastructure.

Similarly, the state Ministry of Environmental Quality is responsible for developing an efficient exhaust system that will be updated every four years, with oversight by the Air Pollution Control Board.

With a severe carbon footprint in space, Catherine Hughes, executive director of support services at Charlottesville Hospital, is thrilled that her volunteer partner has joined C3. However, it is uncertain how Sentara will be able to top energy savings from a decade ago when it replaced its 1903 building with a 600,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art LEED model.

“We doubled our space but we continued to use the same energy,” Hughes said. “We are excited about what we have done and are ready to make another big trip again.”

Lighting in his parking lot is probably the next step, but that alone will not result in an oversight in the Green Business Alliance’s goals. The source of the hospital’s smoke was 2011, when it moved into its new building.

“We’re elephants 800 pounds,” Hughes said of the hospital, a “small town” with 176 beds and a staff of nearly 1,800. Switching to sunlight or maybe the wind may be “a big bite next to the cake.”

Thanks to C3 it is exploring virtual power purchase agreements and other solutions that can give members a partnership.

“We’re in the health business and we have a history of care,” Hughes said. “But one of my questions is, ‘When is the right time to jump into the sun?'”

Sutton made that decision three years ago. Although he expects Tiger Fuel to work with traditional gas stations in the future, he and his brother are also doing their homework on improving their business and charging electric cars.

“If people start to see us while doing this big movement with sunlight, it will result in a civilization,” he said, adding that customers may watch the increase in power or drop by monitors in the store. “People can see this information while waiting in line to get coffee or biscuits.”

While Sutton has guaranteed the return of the guarantee on investing at a fixed price for power, he has without hesitation embraced sunlight as a sign of interest he and Taylor are taking on the outside.

“We’re really committed to doing something good for the environment and we have 350 employees that we take great care of,” Sutton said. “You can do that because you want to hug the trees – it will also give you a lot of money.”