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Misconceptions about commercial solar you may have (and the surprising truth!)

As leading energy consultants, we meet with clients everyday who represent the entire spectrum of private and public sector industries and everything in between. From small businesses of 2 people spending $500 per month on electricity, to large industrial and commercial organisations spending upwards of $40K per month. They all have unique power needs specific to their operation, and as such require a unique understanding of their situation and the variety of solutions most applicable which stand to give them the greatest benefit from taking back control of their power spend. What do they all share in common though? Well firstly, they are all spending vastly more than they should be for their power, but more distressingly, they all share some popular misconceptions that are holding them back from proactively doing something about it.

Specifically, I’m talking about misinformation around the initial investment involved, the length of payback time, and how they can really know that any of this will actually work for them. Put more simply – ‘how much?’, ‘how long?’, and ‘yeah it sounds good in theory, but does it really work?’

The truth is if you’re not investing your power spend in your own business on your own tailored energy solution designed by professionals to save you money, then you’re committed to keep investing your power spend with the Networks and retailers on their return designed to cost you money. And every time you pay your power bill you’re agreeing to keep going…

Where we’re at

Electricity prices in Australia have soared over the past two decades for a myriad of reasons. We don’t need to tell you that. But did you know that inversely the cost of Solar PV equipment has dropped so dramatically in recent years, in addition to the Government funding available through the Renewable Energy Target (RET), that it is now cheaper to pay off your own solar system and be done with the majority of your power bill within a handful of years than it is to keep renting from the grid on the electricity merri-go-round and you never get off?

Before I even set you straight about some of these misconceptions around solar PV and how much cheaper it actually is to do than your current situation, here is a small list of other easy things we as consultants look at that other companies simply don’t which are the ‘low hanging fruit’ and can make a big difference on your bill straight away:

  • Retail and HV Network tariff renegotiations & reconfigurations – Did you know an astounding number of Australian businesses are actually on the wrong tariff? This is often times by default and is a relatively quick and cheap fix that could currently be costing you thousands of dollars every year unnecessarily if left unchecked.
  • Meter consolidation – Supply charges for multiple meters on a property that aren’t necessary is a common find and really add up over time. We can look at consolidating meters for you where possible and get you paying only for what is necessary.
  • Power-factor correction and voltage optimization – We conduct comprehensive energy audits and interval data analysis to find out if your equipment could be running more efficiently and more smoothly and can help with equipment that can provide that desired balance. We all also enlist expert energy brokers who work closely with all the major retailers and can facilitate the cheapest rates and incentives available for customers for years to come that the general public don’t have access to (no matter how savvy you think your accounts person may be!).

Here are the answers to your solar system prayers/questions as mentioned earlier:

Initial investment costs
There are a range of payment methods available to acquire your own solar PV system. The most appropriate will obviously depend on you and your finances but we normally advise our clients who want to put nothing down and want to free up cashflow for the business from straight away to use an operational lease and pay off their system.

The beauty of an operational lease is:

  • stays off balance sheet,
  • fully tax-deductible,
  • frees up cashflow,
  • oesn’t affect your borrowing power .

We can arrange highly competitive finance options through all of the major banks for you which require no deposit. You should ask your financial adviser for more information. Some customers opt for a cap-ex instead, in which case we normally ask for a 10% or 20% deposit depending on the project. This can be the equivalent of a monthly power bill in many cases.

Payback time

Maybe you’ve looked at this before or have spoken to somebody else who looked into it and were told the payback time was 5 years plus, and maybe that was true once upon a time or even recently true if you go through a solar sales company who are all jockeying to just put solar up on your roof as quickly as possible and set off into the sunset. The overwhelming majority of our clients are cashflow positive from straight away anywhere from 5%- 30% after repayments, yes after, and this is just while they are paying off their system! Once it’s done, anywhere between 50-90% of your bill is now gone as you produce the bulk of your daytime requirements yourself. And the general payback time we see for our clients is between 2-4 years. Seriously. This is using a general repayment period of 5 years as an example, but this can be tailored anywhere from 3-10 years depending on how quickly you wish to pay it off and/or how important freeing up additional cashflow is for you right now.

We can show you a detailed feasibility report and cost-benefit analysis specific to you with a range of options showing you the savings available right now to see what would suit you best.

How do I know that this will actually work?

One of the most difficult hurdles for businesses to overcome who wish to take the leap into owning their own renewable energy system is the seemingly unknown factor around reliability. This may be the easiest and the hardest to dispel, however. Like anything, the proof is in the pudding. Over 15,000 Australian businesses have already invested in their own solar systems to alleviate their spiraling out of control bills. This is collectively saving them over $60 million dollars annually on their power bills, every single year. In 2017 a record 1.3MW of solar was installed in Australia which equates to 3.5 million solar panels being fixed to Australian rooftops last year, or more than 9500 installed every day! And this figure is projected to almost triple to 3.5MW in 2018. Talk about social proof!

As well as the well-publicised national statistics on where the real power savings are to be found, we can provide dozens of case studies of real-life businesses with needs similar to yours who we have helped to take back control of their power spend and whose before and after bills you can see the difference for yourself. Additionally, we only work with Tier 1 industry products and all of our equipment comes backed with extensive manufacturer’s warranties and workmanship warranties on all of our installations by our highly experienced and accredited installers. So, when you sit down and look at your next power bill before begrudgingly watching that money disappear again til same time next month, ask yourself the following:

‘What return have I gotten for all of the money that I’ve spent over the years?’

Now ask yourself a more important question:

‘If I know that this is getting me nowhere and is only getting worse, why would I continue when I know that there is a cheaper option available right now?’

Good question.

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