Energy Management

Five Questions Facility Managers Should Answer Before Installing Solar Panels

3 min read

The amount of new solar installed worldwide increased by about 50 percent last year, according to findings from The Guardian released in March. Much of this growth is being spurred by the business community. They have recognized that sourcing power from renewables can bolster their bottom line while helping them to align with consumers as they call for corporate responsibility and community engagement.

But business leaders seeking to capitalize on this emerging trend cannot do so haphazardly. Selecting the right way to invest in renewables demands careful consideration and education. Government policies and financial incentives can vary state-by-state, differ based on the type of system you install or even based on the energy company that you choose. As such, you should understand the landscape of the renewable energy market before you make a decision.

If you’re a facilities manager just starting to think about integrating solar into your energy portfolio, you probably have more questions than answers. To help you get your bearings, read on to see five of the most important questions you should consider before moving forward.

How might government policy direct your options?

As mentioned above, government policy plays a huge part in your options for procuring solar power. This could include zoning restrictions. This could impact how you deploy your system or limit the types of systems that you can install. Some utilities will offer the opportunity to sell back power, while others will not. In some cases, regional policies could even give you more incentive to simply work with an off-site solar provider.

What will be the fiscal impact of your decision?

Ultimately, every business decision has to make sound fiscal sense. Selecting a renewable energy system is no different. You’ll likely see cost savings in your monthly utility bills, but that is not the only fiscal consideration you must make. Will you buy or lease your system? How do you intend to pay for maintenance of your system? Will you need to alter parts of your property to accommodate an installation?

While renewable systems do certainly provide a great long-term return, you’ll need to answer these questions to make sure that you don’t overextend yourself in the short-term.

What is the ideal system for your facility?

All facilities have different structural demands and idiosyncrasies. In order to know which system will be right for you, it is imperative to find the best place for the installation. Many systems are mounted on rooftops. If your building doesn’t get a lot of sun or has numerous features that will hinder your system, a ground-mounted array may be more suitable. Car-ports have emerged as another way for commercial or industrial facilities to incorporate solar while providing added value for employees or customers.

How will solar integrate into our overall energy procurement strategy?

Even if you’re looking to install a larger solar array, the odds are still good that you’ll need to supplement that generation with power from another source as well. And even if you don’t need additional power, a diversified energy portfolio will protect your operations against an unexpected outage. As such, you cannot simply build up your renewable supply without taking a comprehensive approach. The integration of solar will allow you to amend your other supply needs.

Will solar power demand a shift in operational procedure?

For many businesses, operations would come to a grinding halt without a steady supply of power. By installing a solar system at your facility, you’ll be in a unique position to possibly shift operational procedures to improve energy efficiency and control costs. Electricity rates change depending on the time of day. By generating your own power, you can use it on a need-be basis. Similarly, if your solar installation gives you surplus energy to sell back to the local utility, can you shift your processes to sell back during peak demand?

While there are plenty of questions here that you should consider, these five questions should only be regarded as the beginning of your education on selecting the right solar system for your facilities. To take the next step and see how Constellation can support your business needs with a robust portfolio of renewable energy solutions, click here.


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