R&R Stores, also known by many local residents as R&R ACE Hardware, is taking the initiative to become the first business in St. Clair to invest in solar electricity and energy-efficient solutions.

Working with Missouri Solar Applications, store owners Tom and Patti Parks are expecting a 10 to 25 percent rate of return on the initial investment and drastically reduced electric bills for years into the future.

“Solar energy is one of the best investments you can make, due to its substantial return on investment,” Missouri Solar Applications CEO Vaughn Prost said. “It’s good for your finances, and it’s good for the environment.”

Long History

R&R ACE has been a part of the St. Clair community for 81 years.

Started in 1932 by W.R. “Roy” and Rita Parks, the first R&R was a small, 400-square-foot variety store started during the Great Depression. Three generations of Parks later, the store is now owned by Tom, since 1974, and his sister, Patti, who came on board in 1985.

Today, the two-story, 28,000-square-foot building is primarily a hardware store. However, patrons can still find the same sort of variety and departments that harken back to the “dime store” portion of its heritage.

“The biggest motivator for our decision to install solar was a desire to go greener, while also taking advantage of the opportunities to save money in regards to our energy expenses,” Tom Parks said. “It was very important to me that this move be financially feasible.”

The solar energy system installed at R&R ACE is a 25.4 kW system consisting of SolarWorld panels, which are made in the United States. It consists of 96 265-watt solar panels — installed on the roof of the building using non-penetrating ballast.

Missouri Solar Applications has installed more than 100 solar systems throughout the state and has worked with business owners and homeowners alike.

The company helps customers to understand and achieve the numerous benefits of solar energy, and to receive noteworthy cash rebates from utility companies that offer incentives for solar electric systems and energy-efficient lighting.

Tax Credits

Additionally, Missouri Solar Applications helps business owners maximize the federal tax credits and accelerated depreciation rates that are available for solar energy systems — which drastically reduces system cost and provides a fast return on investment. In the end, solar electric incentives can pay for 60 to 80 percent of solar energy system costs.

As a full-service designer and installer of solar electric and solar hot water systems, Missouri Solar Applications serves customers throughout the state. Headquartered in Jefferson City and with partnerships in the construction industry, the company has more than six years of experience specifically in the design and installation of solar energy systems and efficient lighting solutions.

On staff, it has installers who are certified by the prestigious North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP); it also has a registered Missouri Professional Engineer, which is an important asset and requirement for many projects across the state.

Just the Start

Patti Parks said the work with Missouri Solar Applications for solar energy and lighting efficiency will be the beginning of many additional improvements for R&R ACE.

“We have several different projects going on this summer in an effort to improve our business for our community,” she said. “Missouri Solar Applications is a large part of our upgrades, but we are also rebuilding our greenhouse, redoing a major section of our parking lot, revamping the inside of our building and upgrading our computer system.”

Responding to the community and customer service are two philosophies that have not changed throughout the years for R&R ACE, the owners stated.