Eight years ago, Jim Dunn found a way to generate electricity at his business, Eddie’s Bar and Grill.

He installed solar panels.

“I wanted to reduce my carbon footprint, for one thing, and I wanted to save money, for another,” Dunn said. “I want to reduce my utility bill. Both of those things together prompted me to pull the trigger.”

When the owner decided to add more panels in December 2018, he found out some good news.

“My electric bill is almost nothing,” he said.

Four panels cover the parking lots of the bar and grill at 2900 Nameoki. Dunn said the panels offer many advantages. 

“It has a federal tax credit and the county has a state tax credit,” he said. “It was a 5- to 6-year payback period. The one that’s been put in (in 2018), the payback period is much shorter, 2.5 to 3 years at the most. It essentially takes care of the balance of all of my electric utilities.”

Day and Night Solar, an equipment supplier in Collinsville, installed the panels. Dunn, who has owned the bar since the early 1980s, said they get positive feedback from the customers.

“Back in 2011, people didn’t know what they were until they were very curious about it,” he said. “They’re used to it now. Any business owner who makes any money would be crazy not to do it.”

The owner said he hadn’t known any businesses that had solar panels until he decided to install them.

“I just know it was something that has to be done because I’m an environmentalist and climate change is a real threat,” Dunn said. “It’s not a threat from the Chinese. It concerns every breathing human being born, and as yet, unborn. Therefore, it’s something that’s necessary.”

Dunn, a Granite City native, said he has been concerned about the environment for quite a while.

“The environmental problem has been around since the 1950s and 1960s,” he said. “It’s just that nothing has been done about it.”

Dunn said it took a month for the final panels to get installed.

“I became more and more aware of all of the issues of climate change,” he said. “I said, ‘I had to do my part.’ I was running out of time because I was going to get rid of the place pretty soon, so I had to do it now.”

History of solar panels

  • Charles Fritts created the first commercial solar panels in 1881. Three years later, he created the world’s first rooftop solar panel on a New York City rooftop.
  • In 1939, Russell Ohl created the solar cell design that is used in many modern solar panels. He patented his silicon cell design in 1941.
  • Bell Labs’ used Ohl’s design to create the first commercially viable silicon solar cell in 1954.

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