Originally posted by Jennifer Hall – St. Joseph News-Press
At least four local businesses have recently undergone a green makeover. Becker Underwood, Hillyard’s, Prolific Technologies and Western Extralite installed solar panels in an effort to be environmentally friendly. “It just made good economic sense for us,” said Tom Isenberg, president of Western Extralite Companies. “We wanted to do things to reduce our carbon footprint. ”Western Extralite had the panels installed on six of its locations, including the St. Joseph building at 1302 Frederick Ave.
Brightergy Solar Solutions is behind the recent improvements for three businesses. Prolific Technologies was installed by US Solar. The installations are done and ready for KCP&L approval to be fully implemented.“I would guess they are close (to being up and running),” said Susan Brown, vice president of business development at Brightergy. “It’s about four to six weeks for the entire process.”
Depending on the size, panels run around $5 or $6 per watt. In Missouri, KCP&L offers a $2 per watt rebate which comes in the form of a check within 60 days. On top of that, businesses can qualify for a federally funded grant for 30 percent of the cost. However, this is the last year for the rebate. Next year businesses can receive a tax credit for the solar panels. Ms. Brown said the cost has reduced dramatically in recent years.“It’s really become something more viable since the beginning of they year,” she said.
An average installation is 108 panels with a popular size of 25 kilowatts, which matches out the KCP&L rebate. Ms. Brown said that size will produce about 33,000 kilowatts of electricity a year.Businesses can depreciate the entire cost of the installation in the first year. Ms. Brown said that normally depreciation happens over 20 years.“This is an amazing incentive,” she said. “Companies are paying about a sixth of the cost. It’s about a five-year payback if they pay cash. I’m shocked there aren’t more companies taking advantage of it.”
Mr. Isenberg said the cost played a big factor in the decision to install the panels.“We kind of jumped in with both feet,” he said of the additions to six buildings throughout the Midwest. Becker Underwood had been looking for solar panels for quite some time. A speaking engagement at a Mo-Kan Council meeting led the local company to team up with Brightergy. Scott Hillyard just happened to be sitting next to Ms. Brown on a plane when the two struck up solar panel discussion. And that’s the way it goes sometimes, Ms. Brown said.The concept isn’t out of reach for homeowners either. Ms. Brown said that while Brightergy doesn’t have the ability to finance residential, the rebates and tax breaks still apply. For residence there is about a 10-year payback.