Alternative energy sources can make a difference

There has never been a better opportunity for NH Solar companies to sell their energy savings and eco-friendly technology

With soaring energy prices due to the weight of inflation and lack of supply and demand fueled by global events like the war in Ukraine, there has never been a better opportunity for solar companies of New Hampshire to sell their energy saving and environmentally friendly technologies. Homeowners and business owners will continue to seek relief wherever they can find it. New Hampshire Business Review spoke with two solar companies to better understand the factors that drive energy prices and why alternative energy sources like solar power can make a difference.

Our Panel: Kevin Davis, Vice President of Sales, Norwich Solar, White River Junction, Vermont, norwichsolar.com; and Ted Vansant, founder and president of New England Commercial Solar Services, Holderness, NH, necsolarservices.com.

Kevin Davis, Vice President of Sales, Norwich Solar

Q: What tax credits are available for alternative energy projects?

A: Renewable energy projects can generate up to 50% savings and tax credits through the 30% Incentive Federal Tax Credit (ITC) and MARCS accelerated depreciation. An expert solar developer can help customers take advantage of all available incentives.

Q: What are the factors driving up electricity prices in New Hampshire?

A: NH is heavily dependent on natural gas for the majority of its electrical power generation. When natural gas prices rise in the global market, as they did in 2022 for various global economic factors, the result is higher electricity prices here at home. Generating more electricity in the state through renewable energy can help offset these costs.

Q: How much has New Hampshire invested in energy conservation, alternative energy and renewable energy compared to the rest of New England, and how does this affect our electricity rates ?

A: Unfortunately, our electricity rates are higher than anywhere else in the country because historically NH has not emphasized or invested in energy conservation and renewable energy to the same degree as our neighbors in the New England.

Q: Utilities buy their electricity at auction every six months. How does this affect New Hampshire electricity rates?

A: Since these auctions take place every six months, when they take place during a period of global inflation in energy prices and in particular natural gas, the result will be an increase in electricity prices up to at least the following semester.

Q: What can your company do to help businesses and residents save on their energy costs?

A: Norwich Solar can help any business save money on their electricity bills by going solar. We provide onsite and offsite solutions and have programs that can fit any budget. We even offer no-down payment solutions that can help businesses start saving money on their electricity bills without having to invest their own capital.

Ted Vansant, Founder and President of New England Commercial Solar Services

Q: Why should more New Hampshire public and private schools go solar?

A: Well, there are several reasons. Solar energy generates significant savings in energy costs; provides more opportunities for academic and vocational training; produces fewer greenhouse gases to combat climate change and air pollution; and provides a model for other members of the community, especially homeowners and business owners who may be on the fence.

Q: How much money could a school district in New Hampshire save if it opted for solar panels for its energy needs?

A: According to a study by Solar Energy Industries conducted before the pandemic, the average school solar system is around 300 kilowatts, or 900 to 1,200 panels. Most are installed on rooftops, but there are many other models: solar farms are built near campuses or on shaded carports in parking lots; new buildings are designed to be solar or net-zero ready. The projects can save school districts millions of dollars over the project’s 25-year lifespan.

Q: Besides the money schools can save, what are some of the reasons they should go this route in New Hampshire?

A: As I mentioned before, we do a lot of solar projects with schools, and one of the benefits for them is that the money they don’t spend on electricity bills can be used to fund school programs. , modernization of facilities or teachers’ salaries. And of course, a side benefit of going solar-powered in a public school is the tax savings for city residents. There is also the ripple effect of students at these schools being aware of the solar project and thus developing a future interest in engineering and technical careers.

Q: What programs and tax incentives exist to help schools and businesses switch to solar power?

A: The recently enacted Inflation Reduction Act now allows nonprofits, schools, and municipalities to get a 30% federal grant instead of a tax credit. This is great news for any organization that in the past couldn’t take advantage of this 30% incentive because they weren’t paying taxes. Additionally, the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission (PUC) offers a commercial and industrial solar rebate program. This is for non-residential applicants. The maximum rebate amount is $10,000 per project.

Some schools and municipalities may not want to own a solar power system. What they can do is enter into a power purchase agreement. In this case, a third party investor (which may be the solar installation company) pays the initial cost of installing the solar project. The school or city then pays the investor for the electricity produced by the solar panels each month, instead of paying for grid electricity. In many cases, the agreement will contain an option to purchase clause that allows the school or city to buy the system back from the investor at a reduced price after six years of operation, and then own all the solar energy produced.

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