Getting started on a commercial solar project can be daunting for facility owners or managers. It is important to choose the right partners, know all of your options and have a plan for how to proceed. Eight steps for how to plan a commercial solar project are outlined below.
1. Contact a Certified Energy Service Company (ESCO) or commercial solar installer
The first step in planning a commercial solar project is to contact a potential. ESCOs are essentially certified project developers that have the capability to integrate project designing, financing, installation and operation in an energy project plan. An ESCO or commercial solar installer are responsible for solar panel installation and should work with you every step of the way to bring your solar project to life. They can be responsible for procurement of necessary energy solutions and equipment as well.
2. Submit utility bills & coordinate energy audit
Reviewing past utility bills allows engineers to assess heating, cooling and lighting usage along with utility rate structures and more. This allows them to tailor their designs to your company’s specific needs. This is the stage where, if necessary, an energy audit is conducted. An energy audit involves a full walkthrough of your facility that will properly assess the state of your current energy systems.
3. Design system with in-house engineers
When it comes time to design your energy system, it is important to work closely with in-house engineers. This will give the them the opportunity to ask questions in order to properly engineer and render solar panel system designs that work for your company and its needs.
4. Discuss funding options
Financing a solar project can be a particularly daunting task of the planning process. It is important to partner with experts who are aware of all the options out there. Your funding plan could include options such as Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs), Energy Service Agreements, Solar Service Agreements, and traditional means like bank loans or cash purchase. Many of these options don’t require any payments up front, making solar panel installation a more realistic task.
5. Ask about performance guarantees
Plan a commercial solar project with an ESCO partner if you value contractual performance guarantees. ESCOs can provide energy service performance contracts that guarantee performance of the system will be what was promised. This is a valuable service as it makes sure that you’re company is getting its money’s worth out of the solar project.
6. Plan construction timelines
Planning construction timelines involves working closely with your partners project manager. The project manager should work around your company’s schedule and keep track of when equipment is arriving and the project can begin.
7. Await construction
This step is relatively self explanatory. Whether you partner with an ESCO or commercial solar installer to execute and plan a commercial solar project, it is your partners job to work around your schedule when it comes time to start construction. This stage involves awaiting equipment procured for the solar installation.
8. Monitor system performance
The final step in a commercial solar project plan involves monitoring system performance. This is done with a process called metering and verification, which is usually conducted by your partner. Metering and verification is an optional cost that ensures your company receives routine reporting data on your commercial solar system. This process involves evaluating the ratio of energy harvested to energy available over time.This step is crucial for determining whether or not the system is living up to performance guarantees decided upon in an energy service performance contract.
Plan a commercial solar project today!
EnergyLink is an ESCO with the capability of developing large-scale energy projects for a variety of organizations and industries. We have experts for every stage of the planning process on our team. Plan a commercial solar project today by clicking the button below or speaking to an EnergyLink team member at (866) 218-0380.