How to Get the Most of the Solar Purchasing Process
Installing solar panels offers loads of benefits to companies, from strong financial returns, to immediate tax advantages, to impactful environmental benefits.
In this two-part blog post, we’ll outline how a solar advisor can help companies maximize the benefits of switching to solar. solar. In our first installment, we focused on Power Purchase Agreements, and how a solar advisor can ensure the company buying the solar energy gets a fair price. Now we’re going to dive a bit deeper into solar deals where the company themselves own the solar project.
Getting Started: When you own your solar project yourself, all the rewards (and there’s a lot of them) come right to you. In New Jersey, for example, owning solar can come with a 3-4 year payback period. States like New York and Massachusetts aren’t too far behind. However, there’s quite a bit to figure out to maximize the benefits of solar. Before you get started with the installation, you’ll need to nail down a few issues, including:
- Your building’s energy profile,
- Your roof’s suitability for the project,
- Your ability to take advantage of the tax credits that come with solar
Selecting a Contractor: Once you’ve cleared some initial red tape, the next step is to select a contractor to install your solar array. This may feel a bit daunting, as there are over 250 solar companies in New Jersey, and over 200 in New York. Some larger national firms may not have local experience in your township or utility, while a local company may struggle handling the size of your project even though they’re headquartered just down the road.
Choosing Solar Equipment: Solar companies typically come to you with their equipment of choice. Issues such as warranty (and the strength of the company providing that warranty) are key when examining the equipment. There are also certain premium solar panels that are high power, but also more expensive. Depending on your specific situation, paying a premium may or may not be an ideal.
Price of the System: It’s very important to get multiple quotes as prices can vary dramatically for similar solar systems. Comparing quotes apples-to-apples is challenging but worth the effort; otherwise, you can end up paying as high as an 80% premium if you select the wrong vendor. At the same time, simply going with the cheapest option could mean you’ll end up paying more down
Negotiating the Contract: The last step in the contract is negotiating and signing the contract with the solar installer. Some issues you’ll want to pay close attention to include:
- Payment Structure
- Construction Timeline
- Performance guarantees and workmanship warranty
- Who’s responsible for utility upgrades or additional permitting fees
Overall, using an advisor when purchasing a solar energy system can save companies both time and money. A good advisor will provide technical guidance every step of the way from site analysis to contract negotiations. They will bring you multiple pricing options, identify the ideal contractor and equipment, and ensure you’re not over-paying for solar or going with a second-tier solution. All of this gives you peace of mind that you’re making the right decision to go solar, and it ensures you’re capturing all of benefits solar has to offer.
SolarKal, a commercial solar advisor, was named the winner in New York State’s 76 West Clean Energy Competition. They help companies navigate the transition to solar, from the first site visit to the final installation.
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