A few weeks ago, wandering along Warren Street in the lively town of Hudson, NY, I was surprised to happen upon a cluster of stylish motorcycles parked in front of what I would soon discover to be a one-of-a-kind coffee shop, Moto Coffee Machine.

Upon entering the establishment, I was treated to the rich aroma of coffee and waffles. And placed throughout the shop, I spy various models of snazzy retro motorcycles and high-end gear.

My greatest surprise though was seeing two sleek SunPower inverters prominently displayed on a wall panel.

How, I wondered, did such an eclectic combination of offerings come together in one establishment?

Enter Antony Katz, motorcycle aficionado and graphic artist, the mastermind behind it all.

We chat about how this intriguing combination of businesses–in a shop powered by solar PV–came into being.

A decade ago, Antony was renovating the three-story historic building and realized installing solar PV would be a worthy investment what with state rebates and the solar Investment Tax Creditand a promise of free non-fossil- fuel generated electricity in the future.

Antony paid half of the full system price; rebates paid for half. And what’s more: the system paid for itself in about five years.

Antony goes on, “I have free power into the future. And with no moving parts, solar panels should work for fifty years; it’s a very reliable product.”

Antony’s solar PV system is divided into three separate systems –two commercial and one residential in order to maximize the solar rebates. It is comprised of 105 SunPower panels (SunPower SPR205, all black modules). At peak sun it produces about 22 kilowatts of power, and on average it produces around 150 kWh/day (kilowatt hours/day).

MCM - SP inverters & bikes

When Antony added the cafe with its large electrical loads, he found that his solar production was being outstripped. Wanting to be 100% solar powered, he plans to increase the size of the array as soon as possible:

“There’s room on the roof for another twenty or so high-efficiency SunPower panels. We’ll get those installed as soon as we can.” 

Antony takes measurements at spring and fall solstice and has found his PV array’s energy production to be consistent over the last ten years.

“One thing I didn’t expect is how quickly I tuned into the PV array’s production. And I became much more motivated to use energy more efficiently.”

Antony points out the window to his ’91 Suburban that he has converted to run on vegetable oil that he gets from a local restaurant.

“This is our family car now. It’s like a living room inside; with eight seats there’s room for my two kids and my girlfriend’s two children. It gets better fuel mileage than my VW 2005 Passat.” He intends to eventually get an electric car, “so I can travel with my solar production.”

Before leaving I can’t resist trying on a flashy blue motorcycle helmet. Antony offers an invitation: “Bring your motorcycling friends up; we’ll all go for a ride.” Ah yes, the bikes still run on fossil fuels…that precious, carbon-emitting energy source created so long ago by our life-giving sun.