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Minnesota Commercial Solar Questions
HOW MUCH SOLAR WILL MY BUILDING/SPACE NEED?
It all depends on how much electricity you are seeking to generate from your solar system installation. For a commercial property, industrial manufacturing concern, farm, school district, soon-to-be built housing development, there is no “typical” amount of solar that is needed. Cedar Creek Energy installs Minnesota commercial solar systems that are specifically designed according to the needs and size of the facility and your goals as the owner. As a general rule, just one solar panel offers about 250 KWH hours per year, so depending on your energy load we can determine how large a system you will need.
Most Minnesota commercial solar energy systems will range between about 30 kilowatts on up to 1.2 megawatts or more. So if your company or business development or farm needs 30 kilowatts you will need approximately 3000 square feet of rooftop or for a ground-mounted system. If your project is 100 kilowatts you will need approximately 10,000 square feet of space.
At Cedar Creek Energy, we offer free audits and consultations that can help you determine whether solar would be a good step for you. Our clients know that it’s the right thing to do, but they need to justify it economically, as well.
HOW DO I DETERMINE HOW MUCH SOLAR POWER OUR SCHOOL DISTRICT, HOSPITAL, DEVELOPMENT, OR GREEN BUILDING WILL NEED?
First, you calculate how much electrical energy your building uses annually. You can get this information from your electric bill, or Cedar Creek Energy can obtain it for you through your utility company. You will then know exactly how many kilowatts you use per year. This will be the basis for our recommendations and your decisions, on the type of system you will install.
Our team will help you understand what you need to know, because a core value of our company is to treat each project as if it were our own. We aim to develop the solar installation that will be just right for you and your bottom line. Questions that you will want to consider include: do you want to generate power for a number of different buildings, how much are you seeking to offset your energy costs with Minnesota commercial solar energy systems – 50 percent, 80 percent, 100 percent? How much sunlight access do you have to generate power from the sun? In particular, how much sunny access do you have from about 10 am to 3 pm? What sort of roof angle do you have, as the angle of your roof will affect how much solar is absorbed, and thus the number of panels you may eventually need.
At Cedar Creek Energy, we will perform a site visit and carefully evaluate what is possible, including factors such as your needs and goals, land and roof space, finances, and other factors. We will ask you questions and share our knowledge to help you clarify what is possible and what could potentially be the optimal investment to maximize your ROI and payback period.
The other critical consideration is your financing.
HOW DOES FINANCING COMMERCIAL SOLAR ENERGY SYSTEMS WORK? DO YOU DO THIS FOR US?
Solar costs have dropped 77% in the last several years, with the quality of panels and components rising every year. Even so, solar technology is relatively new, and many traditional lenders still don’t understand how awesome an investment in green energy is.
Cedar Creek Energy has financial experts, interconnect experts, and other professionals who can help you secure the financial package that is the most economically viable for you right now and long-term. After serving since 2007 as Minnesota solar installers and turnkey solution providers for more than 500 successful commercial solar energy systems and residential homes, we have a wide range of financing options we can point you to, depending on your specific situation.
As well, we go the distance for our clients, overcoming any obstacle. We are diplomatic bulldogs when it comes to navigating zoning issues and building codes, and have even been successful in getting laws rewritten in a small country town so that our client could install solar on a farm.
CAN YOU HELP US SECURE GRANT FUNDING, REBATES, TAX CREDITS, AND OTHER INCENTIVES?
Our CCE financing team has extensive understanding and knowledge of little-known grants, rebates, and other incentives at the city, county, state, and federal level that can offset the cost of building your solar array.
As of 2017 the 30 percent Investment Tax Credit is available. This is a federal tax credit that cuts your cost by 30 percent. You still pay for the whole project, but at the end of the year, you will receive a 15% credit on your federal income taxes. This is “real” money. If you paid $50,000 for your system, you will receive a credit on your tax liability of 15%, or in this case, $15,000, bringing the actual cost of your system down from $50,000 to $35,000. Additionally, we have knowledge of the various other programs offered by the 235 plus utilities that make up the Minnesota utility grid for commercial and residential solar projects.
WHAT OTHER STEPS CAN I TAKE TOWARD ENERGY INDEPENDENCE AND SUSTAINABLE SOURCES OF ENERGY?
Another step you can take toward energy independence and green building practices is to install an energy storage system or battery to store your excess solar on your property. This storage-plus-solar option will allow you to actually reduce your dependence on the utility, especially when demand is high. Battery costs are dropping as technology evolves. At Cedar Creek Energy, we are in a holding pattern before strongly recommending our clients install backup batteries. The truth is that as the technology improves, the cost of backup batteries will come down. You will be the first to know when we recommend batteries as a best practice for all solar installations.
HOW MUCH CAN I EXPECT TO SAVE IF I PURCHASE A SOLAR SYSTEM?
This will depend on your energy needs, your goals, the size of your building(s) and facilities, sun access, and more.
We will design a solar system for you that will optimize your savings. We do this by basing our estimates on actual data from 20-year historical sun data. We will look at the amount of sun your property will accept, and design a customized engineering approach to maximize the placement and projected output of your solar array. Our clients have seen savings of up to 87% on their electricity bills, not to mention the number of pounds of Co2 saved per year, and the number of equivalent trees planted. Not only are you helping to save and preserve the environment, through rebates and other incentives, you are minimizing the total out-of-pocket cost you will pay for your solar system.
Minnesota Residential Solar Questions
HOW DOES RESIDENTIAL SOLAR POWER WORK?
Solar panels or modules are designed to absorb sunlight. They are made of a very hard, transparent glass, and have a blue or dark cast to them. These solar panels contain photovoltaic or PV cells. These cells absorb the light “photons” from the sun and turn them into volts of electricity. That is why they are called photovoltaic cells.
The electricity the cells are producing is direct current, or DC. However, you need AC or alternating current to run the electric energy needs of your home, as alternating current is what we use in the United States. On each solar panel, there is an inverter that “inverts” or turns the DC current into AC, so you can access it for your home use. This electricity is now run through your net meter, and you are powered up. Solar is truly energy powered by the sun.
WHAT DOES THE TERM “NET-METERING” MEAN WITH REGARD TO RESIDENTIAL SOLAR POWER SYSTEMS?
The electricity produced by your solar system is monitored by a dedicated (separate) solar meter. That meter is connected to the “grid” – which is monitored by the utility company’s electric meter (also on your home). When you’re producing more electricity than you are using, the utility’s electric meter spins “backward” because your feeding your excess energy back into the grid.
The utility credits you for every kilowatt hour you produce more power than you use. Conversely, when you need more power than your solar system is producing, such as at night or on cloudy days, you can cash in your energy credits and avoid purchasing that needed power directly.
Thanks to net metering, at the end of each month, you are credited or charged for the difference between what you produce and what you use. At the end of each year – depending on your utility company – you may receive either a check or a credit for any extra credits still remaining on your account.
Different utilities have different net metering policies, fiscal periods and payback plans. Our solar engineers are fully versed on the varying plans and can easily explain the net metering program in your area.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF THERE IS A BLACKOUT OR POWER OUTAGE?
For many reasons, some people don’t want to depend entirely on their utility company to provide them with power. If there is a power outage or blackout, your system will go down, too, because it is grid-dependent or grid-tied. However, if you purchase an energy storage system with your solar array, your system will not go down even if the grid is down. This type of system is referred to as a solar-plus-storage system. There really is no downside to it.
Even utility companies are looking at battery storage solutions because they need to be able to provide consistent power at all times to all their customers. Overall, batteries are simply another step toward sustainable, clean energy that is good for the planet.
And added bonus with solar batteries is that they back up but they do not produce any greenhouse gas emissions. Batteries allow you to take another step toward sustainability and saving the planet for the future generations.
HOW WILL I KNOW IF MY HOME IS GOOD FOR SOLAR?
We will come to your home or space and do a site survey. We offer a free energy audit and can provide a proposal that will take into account factors such as: how much you want to save, what your financial needs are with regard to financing, how much sunlight you have, what sort of aesthetics are possible when placing the panels, how important is it for you to have a zero-carbon footprint?
We will evaluate your current energy system, review your utility costs, identify all the energy saving opportunities. We will then calculate the approximate energy savings projected at approximately 90 percent accurate and submit a proposal. Our team will identify all of the opportunities available to you and submit a proposal.