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Solar Energy Fuels Michigan Businesses

published: 2013-10-21 11:38

For quite some time now, the majority of Fortune 500 businesses has moved energy efficiency issues to the top of their priority lists and implemented clean energy goals to help save on operating costs and reduce carbon footprints. More specifically, some of the most iconic brands and biggest businesses in the U.S. (including Walmart, Kohl’s and Johnson & Johnson) have installed solar panels on their facilities and together power tens of thousands of American homes.

Many smaller and family-owned businesses are following the same trend—mostly, as any entrepreneur with a keen sense for investment will realize, the bottom-line adds up for solar: after payroll expenses, electricity costs are usually the second biggest business expenditure, and rates have been increasing over the years and tended to spike at times. On the other hand, the costs for solar panels have decreased sharply, plummeting more than 75% over the last few years alone.

For three Michigan business owners, this was an ideal point in time to revisit their energy strategy and get advice from the energy experts at CRESIT Energy, a solar installation company based in the Detroit metro area about their options. Robert Kulick, founder and owner of CRESIT Energy has been very involved in educational programs and seminars about energy efficiency in general and solar technology, and he knows what business owners consider when thinking about installing a solar array.

“Business owners should be educated on two things which are critical to their bottom line,” Robert Kulick comments. “One is the federal tax credit. It reduces the total cost of any solar project. This equates to real money left in your pocket at the end of the year. The other is how energy costs go up-up-up! So not only do business owners need to plan for the consistently increasing costs of energy, they also need to plan for frequent increases of usage, delivery, recovery, surcharges and tax on each kWh they use. Solar may eliminate these energy costs entirely.”

Luckily, the city of Wyandotte in Michigan had been offering a grant for commercial installations that matched $1,000 per kilo watt installed, in addition to the federal 30% tax credit and the depreciation.

For Cheryl Savage and Eric Karn, both co-owners of Karn Sitkins Payette Insurance Agency, Inc this was just the right financial encouragement in order to do what they knew was right. “We believe in renewable energy and doing what is right for the environment. Another benefit is it will cut down on future expenses,” they say. Savage/Karn had CRESIT install a 9kW system consisting of 36 MAGE POWERTEC PLUS modules on the roof of their office building. “Our experience with the system so far [is] wonderful. [We are] just saving money and helping the environment.”

The modules CRESIT used are also virtually maintenance free and rigorously tested to withstand the harsh weather conditions in the Great Lakes region. Since US-based panel provider MAGE SOLAR guarantees an industry-leading 30 year life span on all his modules, business and home owners can enjoy significantly lower power bills while generating clean energy for their own use or to feed into the grid when they are not using any electricity.

Although he admits to sometimes almost forgetting that a 12kW solar system powers his business, the owner and manager of Hood’s Hardware in Wyandotte, John Christie, is reminded of it by his customers fairly often:

“We get many positive comments on the solar array on the roof,” Christie says. “Customers are curious about how the panels work and are just blown away when I tell them how much I am saving on operational costs. Also, I think the solar system is perceived as a positive contribution to the community and as a sign that we are here to stay. It really adds value to the building and our business as a whole.”

Together with upgrades in lighting, heating and cooling as well as motion sensors, Christie is able to reduce his energy bill by 60% and will have his system paid off in less than 4 years.

Patrick Hand is the owner of Discount Drinks, another well established family-owned and operated business in Wyandotte. Especially the demand for cooling had been revving up the business’s utility bill so Hand knew he wanted to find a long-term solution to manage his electricity cost. Together with general lighting and energy efficiency upgrades, his 20.1kW solar array saves Hand more than 30% each month.

“Solar is one of the smartest business investments,” adds Joe Thomas, the CEO and President of MAGE SOLAR, the US-based solar panel provider. “Not only can business owners lock in their energy rate for the next thirty years, but they can also show their customers that they are investing in the future and are independent of price volatilities on the energy market.”

Would his customers install a solar photovoltaic system again if they had to make the choice? “Every time,” Robert Kulick says. “PV systems install fast, are noiseless, and require almost no upkeep. The technology is so reliable and efficient that investing in a clean energy system is the smartest and financially sound move any business owner can make.”


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