Commercial solar lunch and learn slated

Published September 12, 2014

The Elk Valley Times – Posted on Monday, September 8, 2014 at 4:29 pm

Rising energy costs and other financial incentives are prompting a growing number of businesses in the midsouth region to investigate solar as a long-term alternative energy source.

To help area business owners understand the benefits of solar, LightWave Solar will host a Commercial Solar Lunch and Learn on Thursday, Sept. 18, at the Nexus Energy Center, located at 6767 Old Madison Pike, Suite 730, in Huntsville, Ala.

“Interest and demand in solar is really growing since solar hedges against rising electric rates,” says Brian Bickel, sales director at LightWave Solar. “Our seminar will explain solar energy basics including technology and site requirements, utility and tax incentives and costs and financing.”

Many solar system owners participate in Tennessee Valley Authority’s (TVA) Green Power Providers incentive program in which TVA buys 100 percent of solar electricity at the escalating retail rate for 20 years, and TVA pays a premium for the first 10 years.

“Not only does solar reduce current operating costs, it locks in electric rates for the next 25 years or so,” says Bickel. ‘We expect rates to increase at a faster pace than what we saw over the last decade. As rates go up, solar becomes increasingly valuable because of the avoidance of exposure to fuel cost increases over time.”

Other financial incentives for commercial solar installations include the 30 percent Investment Tax Credit and MACRS accelerated depreciation. In addition, the AlabamaSAVES local program provides one-percent fixed rate financing to Alabama businesses. Commercial solar payback time can be five to seven years.

The number of solar installations in the U.S. has grown substantially over the last few years as panel prices have fallen. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, the amount of solar PV installed in the U.S. in Q1 2014 was up 79 percent over Q1 2013, making it the second-largest quarter for solar installations in the history of the market.

The Commercial Solar Lunch and Learn is free for Nexus Members and costs $10 for non-members. Lunch is included. Register online at www.nexusenergycenter.org/events or call (256) 539-6225.