BERWYN – Saturday, Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn celebrated the grand re-opening of the “World’s Largest Laundromat,” a 50-year old Berwyn laundry institution featuring the largest solar hot water system in Illinois.
Quinn was joined at the ribbon cutting event by Berwyn Mayor Michael O’Connor, Alderman Ben Brocato and the World’s Largest Laundromat’s owner Tom Benson, who vowed to rebuild the Laundromat the day after a fire destroyed the facility on Aug. 29, 2004.
“This is a shining example of commitment to the community and the environment,” Quinn said. “By rebuilding this small business and increasing the use of an ‘All-American energy’ source like solar power, this Berwyn institution will continue to cut its operating costs, pass the savings on to its customers and improve the environment as well.”
The new and improved self-service laundry has 36 solar panels – a 20 percent increase from the original facility. The rooftop solar collectors – built by an Illinois company – help the community by providing renewable, clean energy and save the Laundromat 25 percent on its gas bill every month.
While the World’s Largest Laundromat is no longer considered the largest Laundromat in the world, it does bear the distinction of having 301 machines and the largest solar thermal system in Illinois. Putting a premium on time, two-thirds of the washers are express models, which spin the wash at a faster rate and ultimately reduce the drying time by nearly 25 percent.
Funding for the innovative system came in part from the State of Illinois’ Renewable Energy Resources Program - administered by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity - which provides funding for as much as 30 percent of solar installations for homes or businesses.
“Developing ‘All-American energy’ sources creates jobs for Illinois workers in emerging technologies,” Quinn said. “Let’s declare ourselves independent of foreign potentates by making a long-range commitment to ‘All-American’ energy sources such as wind and solar.”
Quinn chaired the “Special Task Force on the Condition and Future of Illinois Energy Infrastructure,” which examined ways the state could cut electric demand, promote energy efficiency and utilize energy sources such as wind, solar and biomass.