Solar power now viable for Tennessee small businesses
July 9, 2015
LightWave Solar, a Nashville-based solar engineering, procurement and construction firm, has installed more than 500 solar panel systems across the state to reduce energy costs for small businesses, like LB Processors, and larger operations, like the Music City Center.
“Every time we do a project, it raises awareness that this is really a viable way for businesses and homeowners to make a viable investment,” said Brian Bickel, director of sales at LightWave Solar. “Solar pays for itself and generates all kinds of financial windfalls.”
The Tennessee Valley Authority currently has a solar incentive program, Green Power Providers, which buys 100 percent of solar generation for 20 years. If accepted into the program in 2015, participants receive a 2-cent premium rate for 10 years. This premium has declined each year since the program’s inception and will decrease to zero in 2016.
LB Processors, a Cheatham County emu oil refining production company, saw a 26 percent reduction in its monthly power bill. Through a natural process, the fat of emus, an approximately 6-foot-tall bird, can be refined into an oil that is popular in moisturizers, cosmetics and medicinal creams.
In addition, the federal Investment Tax Credit equals 30 percent of the total solar project cost with no cap.
LightWave Solar focuses on providing solar energy to smaller businesses. These businesses typically have higher electric rates and can get the maximum return from TVA’s solar incentive program.
“Part of having a small business is you’re always looking for ways to cut costs,” LB Processors Chief Financial Officer Trevor Peterson said. “When we’re able to be more efficient, by reducing electricity use and other things, it goes right along with what we do by being all natural.”
In May, LightWave Solar installed a solar panel system on the roof of the company’s manufacturing center. With financing models offered by LightWave Solar partner BB&T Bank, LB Processors will be cash flow positive within two years of installing the system.
“As the electric costs continue to go up, it just increases the value of the solar more,” Bickel said.
LightWave Solar holds public workshops across Middle Tennessee to raise awareness about the financial benefits and possibilities for residents and small business owners.
LightWave Solar public workshops:
July 31: Murfreesboro, Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce
Aug. 12: Franklin, Ansbach Artisans