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The Sun-Times - Heber Springs, AR
  • Heber graduate a rising business star

  • Will Gilbrech has been making a name for himself in business innovation since graduating from Heber Springs High School.
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  • Will Gilbrech has been making a name for himself in business innovation since graduating from Heber Springs High School.  He and his teammate, Trevor Ferguson of Conway, have traveled to competitions at home and around the country and were recently named finalists at the Donald W. Reynolds Governor's Cup.  
     
    “We pitched a device called "ecoNode" that the University of Arkansas and the University of South Carolina have been developing, “ said Gilbrech.  “It's a breaker box sized device that replaces your solar panel's inverter and controls your energy for you. With the help of a few batteries, it's able to store your solar energy for later. This is particularly useful when an electricity pricing model called peak load pricing comes along. Peak load pricing is essentially the supply and demand pricing of electricity. So during times of heavy usage - say the morning when everyone is getting ready for work - prices are much higher. During times of light usage - like the middle of the night - prices are much lower. ecoNode allows you to use that stored solar energy to "skip" these expensive peak load pricing times, thereby saving you money. Testing has shown that it saves about $500 a year. This ability is important because peak load pricing is already spreading across the US and is soon going to be in Arkansas. The model is spreading so fast because it spreads out power demand and reduces blackouts - saving utilities money because they get fined for power outages.”
     
    Their first competition was the Wal-mart Business Plan Competition in Louisville, Kentucky where they finished as the runner-up for that regional. Next was the Nebraska Global Ventures Competition in Lincoln, Nebraska, where they finished 3rd and won $1,000. Lastly, they were finalists at the Donald W. Reynolds Governor's Cup. “ The Governor's Cup was the most important finish as it's one of the biggest business plan competitions in the US,” said Gilbrech.
     
    Gilbrech graduated from Heber in 2010, where he played wide receiver on the football team. He is now a senior at the University of Arkansas majoring in Finance and Banking , where he expects to graduate this May. He is going to be part of the Arkansas Fellowship program after graduation.

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