Step 1: Understand Your Motivations and Your Site
When first considering going solar, it’s important to understand your project objectives. Whether your goal is to lower operating costs for your property, provide solar access to tenants, lower energy costs for tenants and common area loads or increase your property’s value and appeal – all are achievable with solar.
Understanding your site is an important first step. System size, location and surrounding obstacles may affect the performance of a solar system, so Luminous Solar will start by assessing your site’s viability for solar. After determining that the building’s roof gets adequate sunlight, we will review the age and condition of the roof. Check when the roof was last replaced and its suggested lifespan. Solar panels typically come with a 25 year performance warranty and many manufacturers offer a 12 year product warranty. The productive lifespan of panels can exceed both these warranties. Ideally, the remaining life of the roof will be equal to or greater than the lifetime of the PV system.
Step 2: Determine which Tenants will Go Solar or if Just Offsetting Common Areas & Determine Building Energy Load
A solar system can be sized to serve the entire building load or specific units/electric meters within a building. As the property owner, you will decide which meters are to receive a portion of the solar electricity credit, allowing the benefit of reduced utility bills for those tenant units and common areas. Once you have decided which units and accounts will be included, you will need to understand the annual consumption in kilowatt-hours (kWh) of those units and determine what percentage will be offset with solar.
Step 3: Estimate System Size & Determine Solar Allocations
Once the participation structure and associated annual energy consumption data have been determined, Luminous Solar will translate that information into an approximate system size needed and calculate the percentage of the total kWh production that will be applied to each unit or “benefitting account.” ]There are a number of methods to determine unit allocations, such as using historical consumption data to determine the respective percentage or a more generic allocation, based on the number of bedrooms or square footage.
Step 4: Review Financing Options & Recoupment Methods
As an apartment building owner, you have access to a variety of financing methods for installing a solar electric system as described elsewhere on our website. When reviewing the typical financing products available, keep in mind personal considerations such as existing capital, federal tax repercussions, property value and other items. If the solar system is designed to benefit tenant accounts, you also will need to determine your method of recouping your investment from tenants, while still allowing them to see an overall net savings each month. For example, if the tenant will save around $100 each month on their utility bill due to the solar bill credits, the property owner could consider raising the monthly rent by $75. This allows the property owner to recoup the investment incrementally each month, while still allowing for the tenant to see a 25% net savings. The method you choose to recoup your investment from tenants may vary based on the financing product you choose to use.
Step 5: Solar System Installation
Luminous Solar will provide a turnkey installation of your solar system. We will deal with the utility to interconnect your system to the grid, the municipality to obtain permits and the state to register for any state incentives. We take care of it all so that you can continue to focus on your business.
Step 6: Ongoing Monitoring
After the installation is complete, there are ongoing management activities that should be tracked. System performance monitoring is important for ensuring that the system is producing electricity consistently. Specific system monitoring packages will be included in your system design and can be monitored online.