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Helping Commercial Business Owners Make the Switch to Renewable Energy

Across the board, commercial business owners are seeking to reduce expenses, ramp up profits, and adopt leaner business models in the name of efficiency. Yet, one area that many are failing to embrace is that of renewable energy. It’s worth taking a closer look at, however, as making the right, smart changes today could mean less wasted resources and less wasted money in the near future.

On average, commercial properties waste 30% of the energy they consume. That means they’re running operations at full capacity, but only benefitting from 70% of the energy they generate. Of course, there are simple, small-scale fixes that can help reduce this amount. For instance, facility managers can adjust the temperature in the building to only pump out heat or air conditioning when it’s in use. The same goes for the lights, which can be turned off during periods of downtime.

Yet, while these adjustments can help businesses chip away at that 30% waste percentage, the only way to truly reverse that trend is to invest in energy-saving resources such as solar arrays or wind turbines. By changing the way power comes into the building, these leaders can better control the resources they use, eliminating excessive waste that leaves companies financially depleted with nothing to show for it.

As utility leaders, how can we make the case for renewable energy to the local business owners in our communities? What are some of the perks and advantages we can explain to convince them to give these green technologies a second look? While this list is far from exhaustive, it sheds some light on the key points of renewables and the power they hold. Let’s take a look.

The financial aspect. As C-suite executives consider making the change to renewables, most will want to see detailed analytics of how much the investment will cost up front versus the cost savings advantages they can expect in return. In this regard, it’s important to note that the cost of power provided to the commercial sector has risen steadily since 2016 and this pattern is expected to continue into 2019. Specifically, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that the price per kilowatt hour was 10.43 cents in 2016, then 10.68 cents in 2017. It’s expected to average 10.92 cents in 2018 and reach 10.97 cents by 2019.

Thus, while a solar array might require more of an up-front investment, it’s a one-time purchase that will reveal its value over time. As fuel prices escalate, the worth of a renewable system won’t change, providing a hedge of price protection for commercial clients.

Keeping it local. When a business owner pays for fossil fuel consumption, those dollars are pumped directly back into those fuel providers, most of which are not located near the business itself. This is especially the case when a business experiences a period of high demand, where one-time surge purchases are required. Those are often sent to out-of-region facilities that have enough generating capacity to meet such requests. The takeaway? Paying for fuels, whether coal, gas, uranium, or oil, often means shelling out big bucks to an operation plant whose profit generation doesn’t benefit the local economy. Investing in renewables means that commercial clients have more money to generate toward their community.

Reliability and scalability. The original use intended for solar photovoltaic panels? They were designed to power space satellites – talk about a system that needed to be secure and reliable at all times! Commercial clients should understand that a renewable energy solution such as a solar array can last upward of 40 years or more with minimal maintenance and upkeep required. While homeowners and business owners alike must take steps like roofing maintenance to preserve the integrity of their structures, it’s relieving to know that as a whole, a renewable system is essentially self-supporting and doesn’t require hefty service fees to stay in working condition.

The clean energy that’s produced is also scalable to fuel a variety of business needs. As a business grows or cuts back, the system can be adjusted accordingly. This eliminates waste and ensures that the power provided is adequate and appropriately scaled.

These points and so many more can help explain to commercial business owners why renewables are far from an elitist aim. Rather, they’re real and valuable energy solutions that can make a significant difference in the cost of operations. Moreover, they’re key initiatives in reducing waste and eliminating excessive power use. Digging into them as viable power alternatives is a worthy investment of time and attention.


Mario Bruno Ferreira's picture
Mario Bruno Ferreira

I agree with most of your article.

Please don't forget that from the point of view of System Operator (ISO at USA or TSO at EU) or regulator when applicable, I think storage will be a must for all embebed prodution (no only solar) and also we will need to strongly (huge) invest on IT and ITC projects (hardware, software and resources) in order to foster Transmission - Distribution (TSO-DSO) data exchange so global and local system security can be ensure all the time on.

The question is: are regulators and govermnents ready to accept that costs?