Kingdom Brewing adapts through efficiency

Winooski, VT

Winooski, Vermont – Kingdom Brewing’s business model of depending on taproom sales for much of its revenue was put to the test when COVID-19 struck. Forced to temporarily close its Newport, VT taproom to protect public health, keeping the business afloat became a struggle.

Owners Brian and Jenn Cook needed cold storage for two reasons. First, because they relied on local farms for key ingredients like hops which they could only order in bulk quantities – more than their small operation could use in a short time. Keeping these ingredients fresh until they were needed was imperative. Second, with less of their beer flowing in the taproom to in-person customers, they needed to store cans and kegs for retail sales to replace some of their lost taproom revenue.

Efficiency Vermont has incentives for refrigeration equipment, but Kingdom Brewing needed to build the actual coolers and storerooms first in order to take advantage of those incentives.  And with their taproom revenues down, they simply couldn’t make the investment. Not only were their expansion plans in question; their business was at risk of shutting down.

“COVID threw us a curve ball and for a while there it looked like the future was uncertain,” said Brian Cook. “That’s when we learned about the special incentives Efficiency Vermont was offering in partnership with Vermont’s regional development corporations, and that gave us new hope for the future of our business.”

Offered for a limited time in the fall of 2021, the special incentive was specifically designed to help small businesses jumpstart efficiency projects that had been put on ice by the pandemic. The incentive covered up to 90 percent of costs and allowed Kingdom Brewing to hire contractors and put down payments on refrigeration equipment without taking on additional debt, especially in a time when income was down. While the limited-time 90 percent incentive is no longer available, Efficiency Vermont still has custom incentives available to businesses, combined with technical support, to help them improve energy efficiency and reduce energy costs.

Although the project was delayed by supply chain constraints, Kingdom Brewing’s new refrigeration system was installed this spring in time for its can launch during their May 7th reopening.  “When we opened our doors back up, it was thanks in large part to this program,” said Cook. “It was extremely helpful.”

Kingdom Brewing was one of 164 Vermont businesses to receive support through the program in the fall of 2021. The state’s 12 Regional Development Corporations (RDCs) helped identify key local businesses that could benefit from the program, and connected them with Efficiency Vermont energy consultants.  With 85 percent of the projects now completed, Efficiency Vermont recently released initial results of the program:

  • Total incentives paid to date -- $2,336,220
  • Average incentive amount -- $16,888
  • Expected lifetime electricity savings – 1,270 megawatt-hours

“While it was important to continue achieving energy efficiency savings during the pandemic, it was even more important to help businesses build resilience,” said David Corliss, Efficiency Vermont Director of Customer Engagement. “We were grateful for the outreach support from our RDC partners to help us connect with these businesses and move their projects forward. We were able to be there for small and medium businesses when they needed us, and we look forward to the long-term working relationships that we know will result.”

“Small and medium businesses are the lifeblood of Vermont’s economy, and helping them adapt to the pandemic and set them up for ongoing success was extremely important,” said David Snedeker, Executive Director of the Northeastern VT Development Association. “Even though this limited-time incentive has expired, Efficiency Vermont continues to offer programs and incentives that we hope more Vermont businesses will take advantage of, so they can lower their energy costs and build resilience into their operations.”

About Efficiency Vermont

As the nation’s first Energy Efficiency Utility, Efficiency Vermont has helped Vermont avoid over 13.2 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions and has received the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR program Partner of the Year – Sustained Excellence award for the last seven consecutive years. Efficiency Vermont works with partners to help our state transition to more affordable, low carbon energy use through education, incentives, and support for our clean energy workforce. Learn more at www.efficiencyvermont.com.

Efficiency Vermont Press Contact
Jeff Buell
Phone: (802) 540-7662
[email protected]