Companies that want to transition to a more eco-friendly energy option can ponder investing in a solar panel setup. Taking that approach could bring about a wide variety of perks for businesses.
Have Positive Effects on the Community
No matter when you established your business or opened a particular branch in the community, residents — as well as fellow commercial entities — may favorably view your company as one that takes part in beneficial practices. Perhaps your brand is one of the main sponsors of a local charity ball that raises money for sick children or you have reached out to the members of your supply chain to look for ways to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Those are two examples, but turning to solar power could benefit your community, too, while establishing you as a corporate leader. An interesting study from Boston University found that people who install solar panels could be advantageous for all other inhabitants of a respective state by contributing to overall lower electricity prices.
The research — which focused on Massachusetts — showed that, since generated solar power goes directly into the grid, utility providers can become more reliant on it instead of buying electricity from power plants. Utility companies measure supply and demand and buy from power companies when needed. But when they do that, higher rates result. As such, solar power could help everyone pay less for electricity.
Moreover, if your business is well-respected in the community and members of the public know you’ve started using solar, you could inspire households and commercial entities to think about doing the same. Individuals are often hesitant to be among the first in an area to do things, but your company could provide the inspiration they need to be open to making changes.
Make a Notable Long-Term Investment
The upfront cost of a solar power system can be sizeable — especially depending on your specific needs. However, it’s crucial not to let yourself be put off by the initial costs. First, it doesn’t typically take a long time to see your commercial solar investment pay off. Expect for it to pay itself off in about a decade, then to earn somewhere between $30,000 and $40,000 in cost savings over the system’s lifetime.
The energy savings could go up even more for a larger-than-average business. When Dartmouth University installed hundreds of panels on three of its buildings, it expected six-figure savings over the lifetime of the array. Representatives noted the cost savings could go up for larger installations. They are also excited about being less dependent on fossil fuel, since the sun is a plentifully available resource.
Besides the reduced energy costs, you can anticipate lower maintenance. Solar panels don’t have moving parts that could wear out. And, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association, the average photovoltaic module boasts a lifespan of 20 to 30 years. Your equipment provider may also offer guaranteed warranties that provide additional peace of mind for continual, hassle-free operations.
It’s worth learning about potential federal and state tax credits that may be available to your business, too. The Business Energy Investment Tax Credit is a federal incentive for corporations that invest in renewable energy, including solar power. Plus, if an incentive is in place for your state, you could deduct a portion of the expenses from your state tax bill.
Solar Power Helps You Get Closer to LEED Certification
If your business is working toward LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) certification, solar power could support that investment by helping the establishment get closer to its goal. In the Energy & Atmosphere category, there are on-site renewable energy credits available. A business seeking LEED certification could get up to seven LEED points through solar power depending on how much the company relies on it.
Although LEED certification primarily has environmental benefits associated with it, the achievement also gives your business an opportunity for press coverage. For example, if your company is the first commercial establishment in the community to get it, it may receive coverage online, on television and in print media. Then, if other businesses are also trying to become certified, they might get in touch with you for guidance.
A System With Battery Backup Gives You Power During an Outage
The businesses affected by the recent hurricanes and other natural disasters know power outages can entirely halt corporate operations. However, if you opt for a solar setup with a battery backup component, you could enjoy power that helps your business keep running, even if at a minimal level. That resource could be crucial depending on the specifics of your facility.
For example, if you run a restaurant, you might use the backup power for refrigerators and freezers so improper temperatures don’t ruin your perishable foods. Or, businesses that serve customers from all over the world through a call center could use backup power for computers and lights in a segment of the facility, allowing business to continue.
Power outages can cause feelings of helplessness while contributing to sudden unproductivity. Fortunately, solar power with battery backup remedies both those things and allows a business to keep serving customers, or at least not shut down operations completely, until the lights come back on.
Flexibility and Options
When many people think of solar power possibilities, interior lighting likely comes to mind. Although that’s one option, there are numerous other choices to consider, all of which could boost your company’s cost efficiency. For example, you might start small and invest in a solar-powered sign outside. Those are typically self-contained and could work well if placed in an area that gets abundant sunlight.
Solar heating and cooling options also exist. Some may not replace conventional climate control measures, but they could help you reduce your dependence on them.
The flexibility of solar power also extends to your payment options. Companies offer lease programs for clients who don’t want to purchase solar equipment right away. Moreover, there are zero-down-payment loans available for solar equipment. The monthly payments for those could be lower than your usual utility bills.
It’s smart to explore the types of solar power your business could use, plus ways to pay for the associated systems. By getting informed, you can become well-equipped to pursue the most appropriate options for your facility, employees and customers.
Investigate which aspects of the business use the most resources while engaging in this research phase. You may discover there are solar energy options to help you cut costs in those areas. A nearby reputable company that specializes in solar equipment installations could offer tailored assistance, too.
It’s a Potential Income Generator
The research mentioned earlier about Massachusetts discussed how utility companies often have arrangements with power plants to help them meet excessive demand, but they use solar power, too. Some states, including Tennessee, have programs for solar power equipment owners that generate more power than they need. They allow selling the extra to utility providers and making money.
The specifications vary by location, and they involve communicating with the utility provider to work out the logistics. However, if this option is available to you, it could be yet another way that solar energy pays you back over time. Think of it as money that wouldn’t otherwise be available without switching to solar power. Additional solar panels could grow the company bank account, provided you have adequate space for them.
Impress Eco-Minded Current and Future Employees
Today’s workforce wants to do more than earn paychecks. Making an income is vital, but employees often prefer to work for companies that actively make the world a better place. Installing solar equipment at your business enables you to do something meaningful for the environment, which could improve your reputation with people working at the establishment now as well as entice those you hire later.
You could turn the first day your business uses solar power into a company-wide event that includes other activities that protect the planet, such as recycling, purchasing a water cooler for the office instead of cases of bottled water, or helping employees cut down on breakroom waste by using a compost heap.
Taking that approach gets everyone on board with solar power and other ways to help the planet, and it could boost morale by reminding people they work for a company that cares about the future of the Earth.
Additionally, you could resonate with potential employees by mentioning solar power and eco-friendly initiatives in job advertisements. Since solar equipment is long-lasting, your decision to use it assures jobseekers the company makes the planet an ongoing priority rather than treating it as a short-term concern.
Solar Power Could Be a Smart Move for Your Business
These reasons are some of the top things that urge businesses to think about getting set up with solar power. And they’re benefits you’ll likely see in your establishment. However, because no two companies are identical, plan on noticing even more perks that are especially relevant to the kind of work your establishment does, how it serves the community, and the products or services it produces.
You could make a transition to solar power part of a larger corporate social responsibility plan or simply decide that now is an opportune time to investigate making a forward-thinking change related to using energy.
Emily Folk is a freelance writer and blogger on conservation and sustainability. To see her latest posts, check out her blog, Conservation Folks, or follow her on Twitter, @emilysfolk.