“SCCA is my way to give back and help grow our local business community, which is key to keeping Seward as a sustainable neighborhood.”
SCCA Member: Tracy Singleton, Birchwood Café

A Push for Solar Energy In Seward: Four Case Studies

Article by Jared Hanks

The SCCA is currently working with the city on an energy project this year. The goal of this project is to help at least three businesses in the Seward Community implement Solar Energy Systems. In an ongoing study, the SCCA is gathering information from its members about their experiences and interests in energy efficiency projects, specifically solar energy.

The following are four case studies from various businesses in the Seward neighborhood that have installed solar energy systems on their property. If you are interested learning more about solar energy efficieny programs, contact Jared Hanks at intern@redesigninc.org.

Business: Seward Inc.

Business Size – 10,150 sf

System Size – 159 Solar Panels

Lease vs. Own – Own

Contractor Used – Solar Flow Energy

Seward Inc. is an Education & Training organization based out of the 2200 E. Franklin building. In 2012, the organization installed 159 solar panels on their 10,150sf property. Since installation, the panels have combined to generate 60-megawatt hours (megawatt is equal to one million watts­). Seward Inc. took advantage of both State and Federal Rebates, bringing their $189,000 project down to $25,000 after rebates. The project will have paid itself off in 6 years, and continue to conserve energy use for years to come. Despite a slight delay on the project after initial investment, the Seward Inc. states, “the rebates made it possible and plausible, the best part is knowing that this is the right thing to do.”

Business: Close Associates Architects

Business Size – 2,000 sf

System Size – 32 Solar Panels

Lease vs. Own – Own

Contractor Used – Enhanced Home Systems

Close Associates Inc. is an architecture firm located on 3100 block of E. Franklin Ave. In December of 2012, Gar Hargens, President of Close Associates, worked with Enhanced Home Systems to install 32 (240kw) solar panels on the 2,000sf building. The firm utilized a variety of energy rebates and tax credits available to them, including: Federal Tax Credit, Business Income Tax Credit, Xcel’s ‘Solar Rewards’ program, and the 10K Solar rebate. These rebates brought the project from $55,000 to a much more manageable amount for the firm. Since installation, the project has paid itself off and Close Associates is already starting to see savings on utilities. Aside from not starting sooner, and having better coordination, Hargens is completely satisfied with the results for his business. Hargens states, “It feels good to have done it, and know when the Sun is out, we’re doing something good for the planet.”

Solar Panels on roof of Close Associates.

Solar Panels on roof of Close Associates.

 

Business: Seward Community Coop

Business Size – 25,000sf

System Size – 32 Solar Panels

Lease vs. Own – Lease-to-Buy

Contractor Used – Solar Flow Energy

Seward Community Cooperative is a member-owned grocery co-op in Seward located at 2823 E. Franklin Ave. The Co-op has served the Seward community for over 40 years and has been committed to striving for environmental sustainability in their business model. After moving to their new location, they installed 32 (40kw) solar panels on their property in the summer of 2010. The 32 panels account for about 4% of the energy used in their facility. Working with Solar Flow Energy, they were able to take advantage of Xcel Energy’s ‘Solar Rewards’ rebate. The project was a ‘lease-to-buy’ deal that required little investment up front and allowed the Co-op to see instant savings on utilities. Seward Co-op is greatly satisfied with the results of the implemented energy efficient solutions. The most difficult part of the process, according to Leo Sanders, Operations Manager, was the coordination between Xcel and Solar Flow. However, the ongoing conversation with vendors about energy efficiency and sustainability is encouraging to Sanders in that it leads to further educational growth on the issue.

Business: Garlock French Roofing

Business Size – 12,600sf

System Size – 10 Solar Panels

Lease vs. Own – Own

Contractor Used – Nelson Electric

Garlock French is a roofing company located on the border of Seward and Longfellow neighborhoods at 2301 25th Street. About 3 years ago, they recognized the benefits of installing the solar energy system on their property. Being the roofing experts they are, they actually installed the solar panels themselves with minimal electrical help from Nelson Electric. The primary motivations of Garlock French for the solar panels were to advertise their services on their own building, while promoting environmentally efficient energy solutions. They took advantage of a number of rebates that took the price of the project from $40,000, down to $5,000. Although the paperwork for the rebates took some time, Garlock French would love to go back and install more panels and take advantage of more rebates.

 

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