This blog was written by Alissa Schafer, former Solar Policy & Communications Manager at the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.Guest Blog | June 20, 2017
There are plenty of reasons that families, businesses, and utilities chose to invest in solar. For Jacksonville company Champion Brands, a big part of their reasoning to go solar came down to their operating budget, specifically how much money they spend on electricity every year. Partnering with local solar company A1A, Champion Brands learned that adding solar to their facilities could save them over $750,000 throughout the lifetime of the system.
“Practicing sustainability is one of our core values, and adding a solar panel system to our headquarters is one way to do it,” said Champion Brands CEO Earl Benton. “By reducing our carbon footprint and even our overall corporate utility cost, we can better serve our customers and give back to the communities in which we have facilities. This is something we’re looking at for our other locations as well.”
On the other side of Florida in Tampa Bay, manufacturer Tampa Tank also made the decision to go solar, working with local solar company Solar Advantage. As you can see in this video, the power needed to run their plant is a huge part of the annual operating costs. By adding solar to the facility, Tampa Tank is able to effectively meet about two thirds of their annual power needs, creating significant savings.
For companies and organizations looking to go solar, the process can seem overwhelming at first. While the cost of solar has dropped significantly and the basic understanding of the technology has become much more mainstream, there are still underlying myths of ineffectiveness and high price tags that can cause decision makers to dismiss solar energy before even taking a moment to evaluate the facts and numbers in their situation. Just last week I had a conversation with somebody who had ruled out solar for their new headquarters because “it’s too expensive”, and yet they had not reviewed a single quote or even spoken to any solar contractors about a potential project. For many, like Champion Brands and Tampa Tank, going solar is actually a very straightforward and money-saving decision.
“It’s a great opportunity; Florida’s a great place for it. It’s not as complicated and risky as it might seem.” Explained David Reed, Tampa Tank Board Member. “With solar, we are able to find an opportunity where we can get a good return-on-investment.”
Now that pro solar Amendment 4 (Senate Bill 90) has been signed into law in Florida and with the 30% federal investment tax credit available through 2019 across the nation (with the credit scheduled to gradually ramp down to a 10% for commercial installations after 2019), the time for businesses to go solar in the Sunshine State has never been better. Approved by 73% of Florida voters in 2016 and unanimously implemented by the State Legislature, Amendment 4 exempts 80% of the value of a solar installation from the tangible personal property (TPP) tax for both residential and commercial properties. Amendment 4 also exempts 80% of the value of a solar installation from the assessment of real property taxes for commercial properties. (Read more about Amendment 4 here.)
Of course, it’s a great time for homeowners to go solar as well. If you are interested, the first step is learning more and connecting with reputable contractors in your area to see if going solar make senses for you or your business. Here are a few resources (Florida focused and national) for both home and business owners to check out:
- Florida Solar Co-ops (a group-buy option that negotiates even lower prices) – www.flsun.org
- Community Power Network (national listing for solar co-ops such as FL SUN) – http://communitypowernetwork.com/connect/groups
- List of NABCEP Certified Installers (national) – http://www.nabcep.org/certified-installer-locator
- Florida Solar Energy Industry Association – https://www.flaseia.org/
If you already made the choice to go solar, we’d love to hear your story and see your pictures! You can get in touch with me directly at: Alissa@cleanenergy.org