Harvesting Energy Efficiency

Small businesses in small towns can always use a helping hand. Avista created its Small Business Partner Program for just that reason. The program brings the cost-saving benefits of energy-efficiency improvements to busy proprietors like Melissa and Brent Bozarth.

Melissa and Brent own and operate the Harvester restaurant in Spangle, Washington, a small farming community located just south of Spokane along Highway 195. The Bozarths purchased the business in 2008 and have been happily serving breakfast, lunch and dinner to locals and passing travelers ever since.

“The Harvester reminds me of Cheers,” says Melissa. “We know a lot of customers by name, and half the time, even what they’re going to order when they come in the door.”

To keep the business running smoothly, the Bozarths wear a lot of hats. They help their employees wait tables, cook orders, wash dishes, run the register and take care of anything else that needs attention.

The couple also shares in family duties, taking care of their two boys. Every other day, one parent manages the restaurant while the other maintains the home front. Both kids also are at the restaurant often and are even assigned simple jobs on Sundays, like pouring coffee and running the toaster.

Woman working at a restaurant behind the counter chats with a woman customer, who is sitting at the restaurant's bar.
The Harvester Restaurant is a popular community hub in Spangle, WA.

There’s a labor shortage so we put them to work young,” laughs Melissa. “I guess that makes us a real family-run business.”

According to Avista Regional Account Executive Angela Koker, many small business owners are just like the Bozarths.

“They’re very busy people,” she explains, “so they don’t have time to consider how adopting energy-saving measures can improve their bottom line. That’s why we do it for them, through our Small Business Partner Program.”

Avista’s Business Partner Program provides energy-efficiency expertise and financial resources to rural communities in it’s Washington and Idaho service territories. The program identifies available Avista rebates to help business owners pay for specific energy efficiency upgrades.

In Melissa’s and Brent’s case, the Harvester had very outdated lighting. Avista reached out to them and explained how switching to energy-efficient LED lighting could greatly reduce the energy use at their business. The Bozarths also qualified for a Washington State grant, available at the time, which meant that, combined with Avista’s energy-efficiency rebates, the lighting upgrades would be free.

Harvester's co-owner and Avista employee discuss the new LED lighting
Melissa (Harvester Co-Owner) and Angela from Avista discuss the new LED lighting

“Who could say no to that?” says Melissa.

With the Bozarth’s approval, Avista had a local certified lighting vendor visit the restaurant to complete a lighting audit. The vendor’s proposal for upgrades included interior, exterior and sign lighting at a total cost of $7,920.

The upgrades qualified for $4,597 in energy-efficiency rebates from Avista and a $3,323 grant from the state. Once the Bozarths paid for the lighting changes, they would be refunded the entire bill.

Melissa says they also saved money on a separate project under Avista’s Food Service Equipment rebate program.

They installed a new energy-efficient natural gas fryer and received a $1,000 rebate.

“The fryer ended up being like a third the cost,” she says.

Hamburger and french fries on a plate
The Bozarths also received a $1,000 Avista rebate on a new natural gas fryer

The vendor completed the lighting upgrades over three days. Incandescent and CFL bulbs were changed to LEDs in the lounge, dining room and banquet room, as well as in the kitchen and bathrooms. The vendor also retrofitted the Harvester’s 60-foot exterior sign to use LEDs and changed out one parking-lot canopy.

“It turned out amazing,” says Melissa. “It made a huge difference in the atmosphere in here. I even had customers come in and ask if we remodeled.”

According to Koker, the project not only improved the restaurant’s lighting but reduced electric usage by 30,081 kWh annually.

“The energy efficiency we helped to achieve lowered their bill by an average of $500 a month,” says Koker. “That’s exactly what we like to see.”

Melissa agrees. “The savings are a huge help to the restaurant, especially with labor and food costs going up. We are so grateful that Avista has been such an amazing business partner for us.”

Watch Melissa share more about these projects on Avista’s YouTube channel.

See how Avista can help your business save energy at myavista.com/bizrebates or by contacting your Avista account executive.

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