H&H Design, Inc. to host ‘Solar 101’ for local businesses

Published October 7, 2015

The Gallatin News – Staff Reports – Sunday, September 20, 2015 1:45 pm

Tax benefits, utility incentives and available financing have prompted hundreds of Tennessee businesses to install solar as a way to reduce operating costs and generate revenue.

Back in 2010, H&H Design, Inc., a Gallatin based company that designs and builds sanitary food and drug processing systems, hired local solar contractor LightWave Solar to design and build their 35 kilowatt (kW) solar system. After five years in operation, H&H Design has already full recouped the cost of their investment.

“To me it is all about the ROI,” said Karl Heinrich, principal at H&H Design. “It is an investment that will have a return long into the future. I wish all of our business decisions were this rewarding.”

To help other business owners learn more about investing in solar, LightWave Solar will present their Solar Workshop for Businesses on Friday, October 2 from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at H&H Design located at 698 Wallace Road in Gallatin.

“Our solar workshop will highlight the financial incentives for commercial solar installations, including TVA’s premium payments which will not be available for new applicants after the November 13 deadline,” said Brian Bickel, sales director at LightWave Solar.

The Tennessee Valley Authority’s (TVA) solar incentive program, Green Power Providers, is currently accepting applications. New applicants can lock in a two cent premium rate for 100 percent of their solar electricity for 10 years.  For a typical commercial system of 50 kilowatts, the average annual revenue for the first 10 years is approximately $9,000 per year.

“Solar reduces operating costs, and as electric rates go up, solar becomes increasingly valuable because of the avoidance of exposure to fuel cost increases over time,” explained Bickel.

Starting in 2016, TVA will not pay a premium for new solar projects approved in next year’s program. It is expected that TVA will pay the retail GSA1 rate only. For example, if TVA approves a 50kW solar project this year, TVA would pay about $1,300 more annually than if the project were approved next year.

Additional financial incentives for commercial solar installations include the 30% federal Investment Tax Credit and the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS), a method of depreciation in which a business’ investments in solar property are recovered over six years through annual deductions.

“Since it takes five to seven years for business owners to see a full payback on their solar investment if they pay cash, many of our clients prefer to finance the portion of system cost that remains after the first year tax incentives are recouped,” explained Bickel. “In most cases, this allows for positive cash flow in less than two years.”

Representatives from regional bank BB&T will attend to help answer solar financing questions.

“Business owners need to do the math on the return, and if that works then they should do it,” said Heinrich. “It was great to claim the incentives that allowed us to invest and be forward thinking, ecofriendly all at the same time.”

The upcoming Solar Workshop & Tour is free. To register, call 6156414050.