Frequently Asked Solar, PACE, & Energy Efficiency Questions | EnergyLink

Frequently Asked Energy Project Questions

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A business can expect energy savings upwards of 75%, depending on the facilities current operations. By installing an on-site renewable energy source, synchronizing it with a building controls package to eliminate demand spikes, it accelerates the system’s payback.

There are various financing options available depending on the location and eligibility of the property, providing each building with a suitable unique option. EnergyLink assists clients in matching a variety of funds. PACE financing that is expanding nationwide is a simple and effective way to financing that covers the full cost of energy efficiency projects. Properties in rural areas are also eligible for guaranteed loan financing and grant funding with USDA Rural Development. Several utility providers offer energy efficiency loans to help with upfront costs.

Rebates vary based upon your utility provider. They can be for a variety of energy efficiency improvements such as lighting retrofits, HVAC upgrades, installing a building controls/automation system, and solar installs. Consult with your local utility provider or give us a call to make sure you are maximizing these rebates.

First, our process begins with a brief conversation with our energy management consultants to understand your facility’s operations and concerns. Then, our engineers analyze all of the building’s energy utilizing systems to detect demand spikes. Once the spikes are addressed, we will create a proposal outlining your opportunities for savings. Finally, our EPC team will install the your system to ensure you can begin saving money for the next 25+ years.

Aside from energy savings, other incentives include federal tax credits (30% of the net cost of the solar panel system), state tax credits (amount varies by states), and cash rebates (varies by utility). There are business incentives with accelerated depreciation, which reduce the tax burden. There are also property and sales tax exemptions; the value of solar panels add because of reduced energy expenses is not included in property tax assessments and there is no sales tax paid on the cost of solar power system.

Your energy bill is composed of two parts, energy usage and demand charge. Demand is the greatest amount of energy consumed at any given moment during the monthly billing cycle, which are referred to as your “peak demand,” and often occurs in the form of a short, sudden spike. Demand spikes are costly and wasteful because you are billed for the capacity that is required to provide you with the ability to draw that much power any time, even if you only used it for a brief moment during the billing cycle.

Demand Management is an innovative process that creates custom building system algorithms to smooth out a building’s power demand spikes in order to maximize energy savings. By manipulating the way your facility consumes electricity, ADMS ensures that your facility is not incurring excessive utility bills through inefficient utilization of power.

There are many simple ways to self assess your business’ opportunity for energy savings. If you know that your light bulbs are inefficient or your HVAC needs an upgrade, there is already plenty room for savings. Another way to assess your most expensive charges, or demand, is to calculate your building’s load factor with the information from your monthly electric bill. The calculation requires actual kilowatt-hours used in the billing period, the peak demand in kilowatts, and the number of days in the billing period.

Load Factor (%) = Kilowatt-hours (kWh)Maximum Demand Peak (kW) x Days in the period x 24 hours.

This number is a percentage represented as a decimal value that shows the variance between high peaks and low usage. Anything below 70% will require immediate attention.

It is unlikely that hail will damage panels under normal conditions. Most of the panels we install are safe to walk on, and are also mounted at a slant. The slant will help deflect hail without risk of damage. Only the most severe hail storms pose a threat.

The solar panels can still produce some energy with small amounts of snow on top, as snow does not completely block the Sun’s UV rays. Our design analysis takes the climate data of the region into consideration when calculating annual production, and snowfall is calculated into our estimates.

Virtually no maintenance is required to keep the array in working order, especially if it is mounted on a rooftop that is relatively clean, and the region gets a fair amount of rain to keep them clean. Ground mounts in dusty regions may need to be sprayed down if they get dirty to keep them clean so that they continue to produce at peak performance. On occasion, a panel will become defective and need to be replaced, however we can monitor the arrays and see when a panel goes down and respond promptly.

The solar panels are warrantied for 25 years but solar panels have been known to produce energy for 30-40 years.

A tax credit is the amount of money that can be offset against a tax liability. Credits reduce taxes directly and do not depend on tax rates. Tax credits are often offered to encourage investments, since the amount is deducted from the total tax owed instead of reducing taxable income (tax deductions). Currently, the IRS offers a 30% of total project costs federal tax credit for renewable energy and there are several states across the United States that offer state tax credits that can be combined with federal tax credits.

Demand management can help reduce carbon emissions by allowing the grid to become less dependent on traditional means of power production such as natural gas or coal, and instead rely more on steady-state sources like solar, hydroelectric and wind, to name a few. Demand management can also reduce the need for new infrastructure, and spending can be diverted to further improve renewable energy technologies to make them more viable and inexpensive. The less the dependence on inefficient plants, the greater the net reduction in CO2.

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