As a small or large commercial business, there are some basic things to consider before going solar.
- Most importantly, consider building efficiency measures first. For example, have you retrofitted your lighting with higher efficiency fixtures, and is your building well-insulated? The more energy efficient your building is, the less solar your building will need, thus saving you money when it comes to sizing your solar system. The Colorado Energy Office (CEO) provides helpful tools and information regarding energy efficiency. More specifically, this resource discusses options for Energy Performance Contracting (EPC) opportunities for business owners. EPCs are partnerships with Energy Service Contracting (ESCO) companies that prioritize energy efficiency measures (lighting, HVAC, motors, building envelope, water conservation, and energy management systems) to be completed. Generally, ESCOs will finance the energy efficiency upgrades at no up-front cost to the commercial building owner and be paid back through the guaranteed savings from building improvements. An additional resource is the U.S. Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, which discusses the basic process.
- How is your building’s solar exposure? The roof should be unobstructed by rooftop equipment and unshaded by trees or buildings. Ideally, the solar system should be oriented south to maximize solar exposure.
- What is the condition of the roof? The life expectancy of a solar system can be 25 years or longer. If your roof needs replacing within the next 10 years, this can add a substantial cost that must be evaluated before installing solar.
Incentives and Financing Options
Adams County is pleased to offer building owners in the county the opportunity to access cash-flow positive financing through Colorado’s C-PACE program. C-PACE enables owners of eligible commercial and industrial buildings to finance up to 100 percent of energy efficiency, renewable energy, and water conservation eligible improvements. Financing is provided by private capital providers at competitive rates with repayment terms up to 20 years. This service for both new buildings and retrofit projects provides project energy savings exceeding the debt service, making this option cash-flow positive on day one. Many business owners are finding solar can pay large returns through programs like PACE (see Colorado’s PACE Testimonials).
Choosing a Solar Contractor
The solar contractor handles the solar permit process and actions needed for interconnecting with your utility. In choosing a solar contractor, you have two options: Choose a local company or choose a large national company. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, but to help inform your decision check out Lets Go Solar’s: Finding the Right Solar Panel Installer, which also provides a list of questions you should ask your potential solar contractor.
To learn about the general process of installing solar and what to expect, see The 5 Step Process. Finally, it is most important to receive multiple quotes. To help with this process, Energy Sage Solar Marketplace created a platform that pre-screens over 300 installers that provide competing quotes to save you time and money.
The Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association maintains a list of active PV contractors for our area.