Solar cutting costs for Ansbach Artisans

Published August 10, 2016

Franklin Home Page – Corey Little – August 8, 2016

Ansbach Artisans Commercial Solar in Franklin, TN
Ansbach Artisans

Business owner Michael Phillips lived in Germany for 12 years before moving to Franklin, Tennessee two years ago.

Germany leads the world in installed solar, and as Phillips puts it, solar is a way of life there.

Last spring, he opened Ansbach Artisans, an art gallery on Wilson Pike in Franklin, and as he prepared to open his doors, Phillips investigated the economics of adding solar to his business. After analyzing the numbers, he decided to hire experienced installer LightWave Solar to cover the gallery’s rooftop in solar panels.

“Solar makes economic sense,” Phillips said. “I haven’t paid an electric bill since the installation, and the electric company owes me money each year.”

Ansbach Artisans, a gallery showcasing and selling original artwork by local artists, participates in Tennessee Valley Authority’s (TVA) solar incentive program, Green Power Providers. MTEMC partners with TVA to buy 100 percent of solar generation for 20 years. LightWave Solar estimates Ansbach Artisans will earn about $1,900 per year on average.

“Since next year’s program is unknown at this point, we are encouraging customers to get in the program this year before TVA’s Dec. 16 deadline,” said Brian Bickel, sales director at LightWave Solar.

To help area business owners learn more about investing in solar, LightWave Solar will present Solar 101 Workshop for Businesses on Wednesday, Aug. 24 from 10 a.m.-11:30 a.m. at Ansbach Artisans.

“Our workshop will cover solar energy basics including technology and site requirements, costs and financing options, and utility and tax incentives,” Bickel said.

Ansbach Artisans will claim the federal tax benefits that are available for commercial solar installations. The Investment Tax Credit equals 30 percent of total solar project cost with no cap, and the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS) is a method of depreciation in which the business can recover up to about 30 percent of their solar property costs over six years through annual deductions. Taken together, a business owner can reduce solar project costs by about 60 percent.

To sweeten the deal further, Ansbach Artisans received a USDA Rural Energy grant that covered 25 percent of his system costs. The grant is available to small rural businesses and agricultural producers, and the USDA is currently accepting grant applications for an upcoming round this November.

LightWave Solar assembled the grant for Ansbach Artisans.

“The grant process couldn’t have been easier,” Phillips said. “Plus, I wouldn’t have known about the grant if it weren’t for LightWave.”

The solar is good for business in other ways, too. Gallery visitors have been very excited about the project. Phillips said some are impressed with the return of about five years, and others think it’s the right thing to do.

“Our customers think it’s great,” he said. “Some people stop in just because of the panels.”

The upcoming solar workshop is free. Representatives from BB&T will attend to help answer solar financing questions. To register, call 615-641-4050 or email [email protected]