Whatever the environmental benefits, building owners aren’t going to install rooftop solar energy unless it makes good economic sense. With the cost of solar leveling out, the Inflation Recovery Act's extension of the 30% Federal ITC, and rising utility rates — the economic outcome for business owners has never been better.
Solar Makes Good Business Sense
Now more than ever, solar has become an attractive investment option that allows businesses to turn their roofs into income-generating assets. In this article, we’ll discuss the following topics describing the economics behind on-site solar arrays installed by businesses. We'll cover:
Solar arrays are paid for by a combination of Energy Savings, Utility Incentives & Tax Benefits.
A commercial rooftop solar arrayproduces energy that directly powers the building offsetting the total Energy (kWh) that would otherwise need to be purchased by the utility at then current utility rates. A solar array also reduces the instantaneous amount of energy that is required to be provided by the utility (kW), reducing Demand Charges also billed at then current utility rates. Together, when combined with Utility Incentives & Tax Benefits, a solar array is paid for in ~4 years, and all the energy generated year ~4+ is provided for free providing a substantial direct benefit to a business’s bottom line.
Xcel Energy compensates customers for helping control the Utility's peak demand with a Tariff rider called the Solar PV Demand Credit. This Tariff is monetized in the form of a Demand Credit of $. 07139/kWh for each kWH produced by the solar array between 1 - 7 pm, or 50% of the solar arrays output. The Demand Credit is provided as a credit on your utility bill and is applied against Demand Charges billed by the utility.
All projects between 40-1000kWAC are automatically eligible for the Solar PV Demand Credit.
The Federal Investment Tax Credit is a dollar-for-dollar one-time tax credit that can be carried forward up to 20 years and can also be used to amend your previous year’s taxes. Additionally, 85% of a solar arrays cost is eligible for 100% Federal bonus depreciation in year 1, as well as State 5-year MACRS depreciation.
Together, these tax benefits pay for ~65% of the total cost of the solar project! If your business has a tax bill, instead of writing a check to the government, leverage your tax bill by installing an on-site solar array to produce a significant ROI is an absolute no-brainer.
2. Hedge Against Rising Utility Rates
Energy rates are on the rise due to supply and demand on both the local & global wholesale market, as well as upgrades to the aging grid infrastructure. As utility costs increase with inflation, the value of the energy provided by the solar array increases in kind, providing a natural hedge against the rise in utility expense.
When a business puts its available cash to use by purchasing an on-site solar array & monetizes the Utility Incentives and Tax Benefits, a solar array produces ~4 year ROI, ~35% IRR, and 40 year expense savings that compound each year.
When a business uses financing to pay for its solar array & monetizes the Utility Incentives and Tax Benefits, a solar array produces positive cashflow every year with an ROI and IRR that are slightly less favorable than a cash purchase.
PACE (Property Tax Assessed Financing) is aFederal Programthat provides lending for solar arrays using a network of banks that are approved to work with the PACE Program. Instead of making monthly loan payments to the bank, payments are made bi-annually as an assessment added to the property tax bill. PACE loans can be amortized up to 15 years, do not require a personal guarantee, and provide a fantastic avenue for a Business to receive the cash benefits of a solar project without leveraging their own capital or balance sheet.
The Bottom Line
However you choose to pay for your on-site solar array, the energy generated from it is essentially free once the solar array is paid off. Over the 40-year lifespan of a typical on-site solar array, the sustainable economic benefits are tremendous.
With historically rises in utility costs and our current economic pushing inflation to historic highs, now is the time to lock in these prime solar economics.
Contact iDEAL to learn more and discuss the right option for your business.