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Let your small business shine with solar power

December 1, 2016

By Chelsea Stein, courtesy of Michigan Energy Options

Energy experts have dubbed 2016 as solar power’s breakthrough year, with an expected increase of 119%. Much of this increase has to do with the sharply falling installation costs. Being a clean, renewable, and low-cost energy source, it’s no surprise solar is becoming so popular. Here’s how your small business can reap the benefits of solar.

What You Can Do
You can schedule a solar assessment to determine if your small business is well-suited for rooftop solar or ground-mounted solar onsite. Sophisticated online tools using satellite imagery can make an initial determination of the solar viability of a building without anyone having to come onto your property. This makes for an affordable feasibility study. If you choose to move forward, you can get a more detailed onsite assessment to determine the design of a solar system as well as the economics (like ROI) of such an investment.  

If your business is not well-suited for rooftop solar, you may be able to find local community solar projects to participate in. Community solar allows various community members to share the benefits of solar power without having to install panels on their own property. Community solar parks are optimally located within a community, typically allowing participants to receive on-bill credits from their utility for their portion of the solar power generated from the array. Michigan Energy Options is developing several community solar projects in the Lower and Upper Peninsulas, with this work being recognized by the national Clean Energy Savings for All initiative

Money You Will Save
Investing in solar power for your small business will reduce or even eliminate your electric bill, significantly cutting your overall operating costs. Solar panels last for 25 to 40 years with little maintenance and can be installed typically within a few months. Depending on the total costs, utility electric pricing, available tax incentives and state rebates and desired solar system size, ROI can be anywhere from 10 to 15 years. You’ll be receiving clean, renewable energy from the sun, allowing you to hedge against an unknown energy future.

The Bigger Picture 
Solar power is just one part of a comprehensive energy improvement plan that you can implement for your small business. The other big part is greater energy efficiency: LED lighting, upgrading heating and cooling, greater water conservation, ENERGY STAR office equipment and appliances and “whole building envelope” improvement. Many of these upgrades qualify for local utility rebates and incentives. 

It has been estimated that small businesses in the US spend more than $60 billion per year on overall energy costs. With utility bills averaging about 20% of all operating expenses in commercial office buildings. You’ve got a business to run – Investing in energy efficiency and renewable energy cuts your costs and lets your small business shine.

Since 1978 Michigan Energy Options (MEO) has been pursuing its mission of guiding communities toward being more sustainable and resilient through the adoption of energy efficiency and renewable energy. MEO provides unbiased expertise, research and results-driven programs, while working collaboratively with local governments, businesses and community leaders statewide. Contact MEO by email at info@michiganenergyoptions.org or by phone 517.337.0422.

For more information on how your small business can shine with solar power, visit: 
U.S. Small Business Association
U.S. Department of Energy
Solar Energy Industries Association
Environmental Protection Agency

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