Green Energy Times, March 2017
By George Harvey
“We can help any business save money through solar,” Jim Merriam, the CEO of Norwich Solar asserted. Some business operators have the idea that solar power would not work for them, but Merriam responded to this notion by saying, “Anybody can do this, and anybody can save money. This remains true even if you don’t directly own or host the solar array.”
Norwich Solar, located in White River Junction, Vermont, has worked in the solar industry in Vermont and New Hampshire since 2011. As a company specializing in educational, municipal, and commercial facilities, it has done close analysis of the advantages it can bring its customers. One of the results of this work is a report, “The Top 4 Ways Solar Power Can Strengthen Your Business,” which is available for download at the company website (https://norwichsolar.com/solar-power-for-business-ebook/). Briefly stated, the top four ways are the following:
- Reduced energy costs with long-term stability.
- Reduced taxes with generous depreciation schedules (up to 100% bonus depreciation) and tax credits (30% of system cost), with an additional 7.2% tax credit for Vermont businesses.
- Appreciation of an environmentally-sound effort from customers and community members.
- Increased property value with potential for new revenue streams.
Certainly, with climate change on the minds of many people, it is good to have customers, neighbors, and others in the community aware of the work a business is doing to reduce carbon emissions. Solar installations are an excellent way for any organization to say, “We care, and we are doing our part.” And while there are still a few people who object to the appearance of a large solar farm, the number of people who welcome solar systems is increasing as communities get involved and the public awareness of the climate disaster unfolds before us.
While appreciation of neighbors is nice, and climate change must be addressed by all of us, from a practical point of view, many business people feel compelled to justify any expense in systems that will address the problems. And this is a group Jim Merriam was particularly addressing with his statements. Stable energy prices have real value, especially because the costs of fossil fuels fluctuate so much. You can only take a business plan to a bank if you know what your expenses will be, and you can only know what your energy expenses will be if they provide better stability than fossil fuels do. Tax reductions are easily evaluated, because they have monetary values. Increased property values can be more difficult to assess with any precision, but they are clearly advantageous.
The list above presents only four benefits of going to solar power, but it is a good starting point for a discussion of the business advantages of installing a solar power system. Other advantages worth mentioning include availability of special financing, power purchase agreements, renewable tax credits and other incentives, virtual net metering, shared solar options, and even special utility programs.
No business operates in a vacuum, and what is good for a local economy is usually good for the businesses within it. For sustainable development goals to be met by our society, businesses must develop and achieve their own goals. Solar power is quite consistently good for the local economy, and it is an important tool for almost any business, both for the sake of the general economy and for its own welfare. For most business owners trying to do right by their community, watching a solar installation personalizes how their choice supports rebuilding the trades and providing careers to our younger employees.