Put a Little Sunshine on Your Business – Invest in Solar Energy

Solar energy fixes energy costs incurred by a business for the next 20 years, which means an investment in solar panels today leads to cost savings tomorrow.

Say you’ve been considering solar panels for your business. Maybe a neighbor has been talking it up, or you are growing concerned about climate change and want to do something about it. This is a great time to make it happen while grants and tax credits make new solar projects cheaper than ever, writes Managing Director at Association for Climate Health Nancy Boxer.

“It’s an exciting time for commercial buildings to add solar,” says Montgomery County Planning Commission’s Jon Lesher.  “Our County recently opened a C-PACE program offering businesses, agriculture and nonprofits a convenient source of low-cost, long-term financing for these projects.  We hope businesses take advantage of this. We want an influx of energy conservation and renewable energy projects.”

Solar fixes energy costs for the next 20 years, explains solar consultant Ron Celantano. “Maintenance is minimal, and for businesses that want to be green, it’s a great way to make a statement. A sign at the entry stating ‘This building is powered by the sun,’ some panels visible from ground level, a solar canopy giving shade to some parking spots – these make a great PR impact.”

Less than 5% of commercial buildings have solar installed, yet 70% of them could benefit from solar projects. Financing can be a stumbling block. Yet it shouldn’t be, suggests businessman Lenny Greenfield of Bucks County.

“We’re always looking for cost savings,” he explains. “We’re very excited about our solar project. Between the cost savings, the tax credits and rapid depreciation, it will pay for itself in 5 years. After that, it’s all money in our pocket.”

Not only that, but battery prices are coming down, points out Dara Bortman of Exact Solar, which installs solar systems in the region. “They also cut energy costs and provide backup if the grid shuts down.”

How to lock in those savings? Follow these easy steps:

  1. Review old energy bills to tell you the size. You may want to add extra for when the economy normalizes.
  2. Contact Solarize SE PA at https://solarizesoutheastpa.com/contact/  for guidance. They identify top installers and negotiate a group price for people working with them.
  3. Contact one or more installers for estimates.
  4. Understand the tax credits –
    • 26% federal tax credit for projects completed in 2020
    • 22% for 2021
    • For commercial projects, a 10% credit continues for 2022
  1. Under 100 employees? The Small Business Advantage Grant offers a 50% match of funds up to $7000. https://www.dep.pa.gov/Citizens/GrantsLoansRebates/SmallBusinessOmbudsmanOffice/Pages/Small%20Business%20Advantage%20Grant.aspx
  2. Don’t forget C-PACE for low-interest, long-term financing up to 100% of the cost for clean energy projects. Montgomery, Chester and Philadelphia Counties have C-PACE programs, plus a few other cities. Check your local government for this.
  3. Sign a contract and get it on the calendar.

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