Your company has decided to explore commercial solar panels, but how do you know if solar energy is a good fit? Where do you begin to make sure it is a viable solution?
Here are points to consider when making the decision if commercial solar makes sense for your business.
SHORT-TERM COSTS VS. LONG-TERM SAVINGS
Like any business decision, it’s important to weigh the costs and benefits. Overall, with solar, it is important to understand that the return on your investment goes beyond simple math. The benefits are multi-layered over many years. The performance of the solar technology you choose will have a tremendous impact on your long-term savings potential. You may not see a significant ROI until 5-10 years into the project’s life, so determine how your short-term costs add up. Is electricity a significant contributor to your operating costs? Are you located in a region with high power costs? The average price of commercial electricity in the United States is 10.28 cents per kWh, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (as of January 2020). Likewise, there may be federal and state tax incentives available for your organization to make installing commercial solar panels more feasible in the long-term.
UNDERSTAND YOUR SUSTAINABILITY GOALS
Consider how “going green” plays into your organization’s sustainability goals. For instance, is your organization on a 10-year plan to reduce its carbon footprint? Shifting to solar power can help you meet your carbon reduction goals. For example, installing a 1 MW system in Cincinnati, Ohio, can reduce carbon emissions annually by 928 metric tons, which is equivalent to the carbon emissions sequestered by planting 15,343 tree seedlings and letting them grow for 10 years. Plus, adding solar can bring your company attention in the green-business world and elevate its dedication to corporate social responsibility; in fact, there are hundreds of companies committing daily to renewable energy. Increasingly, businesses are making a conscious effort to choose partners that favor green practices. Quite frankly, solar is “sexy” nowadays. It is a form of renewable energy that your customers can visually see on your rooftop or land, which allows it to be a public relations reminder that your organization is committed to sustainability.
KNOW YOUR ENERGY USAGE
Gather the facts. Before you speak with a commercial solar contractor, it will help to know your baseline energy usage. Pull a history of electric bills for 6-12 months. This timeframe will help you see seasonal changes. Also consult your records to see if unreliable power or power outages have affected your bottom line in recent years. If you have a firm idea of what your organization needs, it will help you choose which solar product is the best fit. All solar panels slow production capacity over time, so how well will your panels be producing in 20 or 30 years? Knowing your usage rate and the minimum you need to produce will assist in making decisions.
The contractor you choose can help your organization with this important detail, but it’s smart to consider commercial solar panel design when getting started. Are you looking for a specific design like a parking lot canopy or a ground-mounted system to take advantage of unused land? If you are hoping to have the solar system installed on your organization’s roof, the roof’s age and overall condition will be an important determining factor. Ideally, a roof should have at least 15 years of life remaining before installing solar panels. Otherwise, you may need to pay additional fees in the future for panel removal and re-installation at the time of roof repair or replacement.
Again, a professional will know what makes the most sense for your space and goals, but it’s important to consider design as you go into the process.
AWARD YOUR BUSINESS TO A SOLAR EPC
It goes without saying that you want a proven, reliable partner. It will save you trouble and give you peace of mind by hiring a reputable solar EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) firm. Most solar EPC firms will offer a full-service, turnkey project experience customized to your specific needs. They will help you secure financing and choose the best tax incentives. They can navigate details ranging from the environmental conditions (How will a solar array stand up to weather and temperature in your region?) to product warranty (How long are panels, inverters, wiring, etc. expected to last?). With an EPC firm, your organization’s solar system will be designed, all labor and supplies will be procured, and the array will be constructed. Plus, the firm may be able to monitor system maintenance or recommend a company that can. The steps to implementing commercial solar can seem daunting — let a solar EPC firm guide you through the entire process.
Melink Solar is a national commercial solar EPC firm. We are ready to assist your organization in shifting to solar energy. Businesses of all sizes across the U.S. have trusted us with installing commercial solar panels. Contact us today.