Renewed Interest in Solar for Commercial Buildings

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After the fad of putting up or retrofitting buildings to be “green” wore off, solar panels were viewed as a risky move in a complicated and confusing market following the onset of the Great Recession. As a result, solar installations flattened or trailed off briefly as the economy put enormous strains on the market for commercial structures.

But with the economy improving, and the number of permits issued for new and renovated commercial construction rebounding, savvy developers rediscovered the idea that solar energy can make an outstanding enhancement for small and medium sized buildings as well as larger buildings and commercial businesses. So, it’s not just the super stores or colleges incorporating solar onto their properties. Because the price keeps declining, even a one-story drug store, a family farm, a grade school or city hall, can benefit financially from installing a solar energy system to offset their electricity needs.

By how much? It depends on the size of the structure, where the installation is done and commercial electric rates charged by local utilities. Typical annual savings range from around $900 for a small, single story building to $18,000 or more for sprawling factories, larger, power-hungry office buildings and multi-family apartment or condo buildings. As Lunning Wende Associates, Inc., covered in a white paper entitled, Solar Ready Building Design Guidelines , “… businesses are more interested than ever in seeing how their buildings can use solar energy. Local and State-elected and appointed officials have adopted policies to promote solar energy. Solar energy is overwhelmingly viewed in a positive light by the general public.”

The report is several years old but what was true when it was published is truer today.

Financing Help

Aiding the renewed interest are a raft of government programs that provide direct assistance through the form of grants and low-cost loans as well as ongoing tax incentives, all of which dramatically reduce the up-front cost of including solar in a new or retrofitted commercial building.  From income tax to property tax incentives, going solar has the potential to save your business hundreds of thousands of dollars over the lifetime of the system.

Together, these provide a powerful collection that means the system could pay for itself in just three years, and lowers electric bills for 30 years. The typical annual rate of return (ROI) is in the neighborhood of 30 percent – a sizeable ROI.

Moreover, because solar panels lower electric bills, they can also help produce Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SERC) that can be sold to produce short-term cash if the owner has an unexpected crunch. SERC may also qualify a commercial structure with an accelerated depreciation schedule and ongoing electric company incentives.

Roof Ready Solar Energy

In an ideal world, the roof of a commercial building would offer no obstructions for the solar installation. As a practical matter, this is seldom the case – even in a new structure. But even on a roof with issues, solar can be installed around pipes, air conditioning units and vents found on commercial roofs. Solar panels are manufacturer warrantied for 25 years which minimizes the risk of having to make costly repairs to your system. In fact, Cedar Creek Energy monitors your solar system.  Many times, we will send a technician out to replace a panel before the business owner even knows there was a problem.

Regardless, installing solar is less of an issue than many business owners realize. The panels are situated on a series of highly engineered brackets that distribute the weight across the entire roof. On an ongoing basis, the solar panels may actually help prolong the life of the roof because the panels protect it from the ravages of wind, rain, snow and ice.

Finally, if the roof concerns are insurmountable, often a suburban or rural commercial site offers enough outdoor space that a ground-mounted array of panels can provide a feasible alternative.

Sooner The Better

Like every other aspect of planning a new building, or retrofitting an existing structure, careful planning is a key to reducing the cost and avoiding unforeseen issues arising as the design and construction proceed. Smart building owners bring Cedar Creek Energy into the project early to work with their design engineers and technical team to create a customized solar array that will maximize the energy pulled from the sun.

In addition to our state-of-the-art engineering process, Cedar Creek Energy will also work with your local building inspectors and energy company to ensure all local building codes are met, and to create an Interconnect Agreement between you and the power company.

The ROI of installing a solar system is unlike most business investments.  Generally, within six-to-eight years, the system has paid for itself and is generating savings in the hundreds of thousands of dollars for years into the future. Learn more about commercial solar

Cedar Creek Energy is proudly serving individuals and organizations based in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Bloomington, Brooklyn Park, St. Cloud, Rochester,Blaine, Greater Minnesota and Western Wisconsin with their solar energy requirements. To learn more, contact our team at 763-432-5261.