Highland Self-Storage: The Switch to Solar and Results
About 10 years ago, Jonathan Brett and his wife, Allison, began their journey to financial security and independence when they began construction of their two Highlands Self Storage buildings.
Jonathan recalls the construction building process was so agonizing it nearly broke them financially and almost deterred them from expanding.
Nevertheless, in 2015, they decided to expand and build a state-of-the-art storage building totally powered by solar energy. Given the number of wineries and wine clubs in the area, they incorporated ultramodern, climate-controlled wine storage as well. The Bretts avoided their construction nightmares by signing with Kautz Construction who also had a solar division—KC Green Energy. Kautz “single source responsibility” solution was attractive to the Bretts. “I was thrilled to find one company that could build our facility, ensure the roof was solar ready, and install our solar,” says Jonathan. “One contractor versus multiple contractors meant fewer headaches and roadblocks.” Once the building was completed, and the solar components were installed, they had to run the building on electricity for a month before the utility would let them commission the solar electrical system. The one-month electric bill totaled over $3,000. “We should have placed a big X
on that bill and framed it for the Bretts,” says Gordy from Kautz Construction. The Bretts said goodbye to future electric bills thanks to their solar power energy. The total savings for Highlands in the last three years has been over $100,000. They have passed some of that savings onto their customers by maintaining reasonable storage rates and have not had a rate increase in 14 months.
A solar-panel system reduces a storage facility’s utility costs by harvesting the power of the sun and manufacturing its own electricity. KC Green Energy constructed a 105 KW system for Highlands Storage, and it has produced 611,388-kilowatt hours to date. The total energy generated is equivalent to 438 tons of CO2 saved. The CO2 offset is equal to 11,004 trees and 49,522 gallons of
Highlands not only used the electricity produced by their system; they also realized a net gain in revenue of over $17,000 last year by selling their excess power to the utility company. “It’s like having an additional $17,000/year storage tenant,” says Jonathan. Operating their facility efficiently and environmentally friendly were two important considerations for the Bretts. “Going
solar has made us energy independent, helped our bottom line, and we have contributed to cutting down our carbon emissions; that’s a win-win in my book,” says Jonathan. Things are going great at Highlands Self Storage, so they are considering further expansion in 2019. When asked if they will go solar again, Jonathan responded, “Absolutely. If you have a commercial building in the State of New Jersey, you are crazy if you don’t utilize solar.”
Solar Considerations for Businesses
Solar prices have dropped substantially since the Brett’s installed their solar panels, and some states offer tax incentives. In addition, the Federal Government offers a Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) of 30 percent for systems installed before the end of 2019.
Here are some things to contemplate if you’re considering solar:
1. Roof condition and layout – Solar panels do take up space, so evaluate how much unobstructed roof space is available. The amount of roof space needed depends on the type and number of panels you decide to install. Typically, a solar panel system is sized to “zero out” your electric bill; the higher the bill, the more solar panels you will need.
2. Your location – You need a good amount of sun to energize your solar panels. If your roof is shaded by buildings or trees, roof solar panels are not a good choice. However, you can consider a ground mount solar panel system if you have the space.
3. Your panel options – You can choose between the traditional and most popular roof-mounted panels or a ground mounted system. A ground mount system can be installed anywhere on the property (where there is direct sun) and is the ideal solution for north-facing roofs or roofs that lack unobstructed space. In addition to the placement of panels, there are different types of panels. Make sure to ask about the panel efficiency; higher efficiency panels produce more power per square foot.
4. Tax credits rebate eligibility – The 30 percent ITC can substantially reduce the cost of your solar installation, but it ends in 2019. If you are considering solar, now is the time to install. In 2020 it decreases to 26 percent; 22 percent in 2021; a drastic reduction to 10 percent in 2022; and onward. In addition to the ITC, several states and utility companies offer incentives. For example, New Jersey SRECs (Solar Renewable Energy Credit) are currently valued at $240 each. One SREC is equal to 1,000 kilowatt hours of solar production. An average 50 kW commercial system produces about 62,500 kWh per year, which means it can generate about $15,000 in SREC revenue per year. Given the price for SRECs, this is an ideal time for New Jersey businesses to install solar. Your solar installer can provide information on state credits and incentives, or you can review the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE).
5. The solar panel installer – Solar panels are durable and will last about 30 years. It’s expensive to remove and reinstall solar panels to replace your roof, so you should have your roof inspected by roofing professional who can evaluate your roof’s condition and repair, upgrade, or replace the roof prior to installing solar. Ideally you should work with an installer who is also a roof specialist such as the contractor Highlands Storage used. If necessary, roof replacement is ideal now due to the new tax law which allows 100 percent expense depreciation deduction in the first year. The other things to consider: Choose an installer that is credible and available to service your system after the sale; confirm the installer is licensed, certified, insured, and has solid solar installation experience.
This article is provided courtesy of KC Green Energy with the permission of Mini-Storage Messenger magazine. © MiniCo Insurance Agency LLC. All Rights Reserved. It is not intended for further reproduction/distribution without the exclusive permission of MiniCo Publishing.