by Rick Peters, Solar Energy Services
Jared Littmann was a real pioneer in 2012, when he made a substantial investment in a rooftop solar installation at his business, K&B True Value, to offset a chunk of the store’s electricity consumption. At that time, Solar Energy Services (SES) designed a 17 kilowatt (kW) solar project (72 panels in total) to offset about 15% of the store’s annual electricity consumption. With a projected payback of 5.5 years, this 2012 project was a good financial investment, but it was still a rare one. At the time, many commercial building owners were not interested in solar if it could not offset 100% of their energy. While 100% offset is ideal, it was certainly not a requirement for a good financial project. Jared understood that and to his credit went ahead with the investment. As promised, the system offset the projected energy and paid his business back in under 6 years.
Fast forward to 2021. K&B True Value’s solar system has been generating free energy for the business for years, but Jared wanted to do more. He reached out to SES and asked us to consider some options to increase his solar contribution. He had plenty of available roof space, so we looked at a supplemental system to the current one, but we also looked at a full new system to replace the 9-year-old system.
In a testament to the rapid decline in costs for solar, Jared was able to invest in an entirely new system to completely offset K&B True Value’s entire annual electricity consumption. That’s right – Net Zero on electricity! Have any other retail operations in Annapolis achieved this? We are not aware of any. Could other firms achieve this and benefit from the tremendous economics that will essentially provide free energy after the 7.5-year payback period? Yes, they can!
Solar energy costs have come down more than 75% since Jared’s first installation. That’s thanks to policy, competition, and scale. Now, many businesses and homeowners can achieve Net Zero electricity with relative ease, while making major improvements to the bottom line. Like Jared, businesses and homeowners can benefit from the state’s “netmetering” policy that allows excess solar energy to be fed back into the grid for credits to be used later. This allows the business owner to maximize the value of the solar investment without the need for batteries.
Some might wonder what happens to the energy that K&B True Value feeds back to the grid at times when the store is not consuming all the solar generation. Jared’s neighbors may not know it, but some of them are periodically using solar energy from Jared’s rooftop. The neighbors are paying the utility for that energy and Jared is getting a credit. And best of all, the line losses of transporting that energy are negligible since the solar energy is consumed by the nearest load. Typically, traditional electric energy incurs line losses anywhere from 10-15% when it travels from a wind or solar, coal or nuclear plant to the consumer. Rooftop solar gets consumed at or near the source of generation, reducing line losses and in many cases unloading the grid.
As this project develops, it’ll soon be time to remove the original panels from 2012. Jared is interested in donating them to a non-profit who will use them. If you know of any interested entities, please reach out to Jared at K&B True Value or Rick Peters at SES.
What’s next for Jared? He has visions of tying in electric vehicle charging and possibly battery backup in the future. Do you own your building and have some tax liability? If so, consider contacting SES for a free solar evaluation. Just ask Jared, you won’t regret it.
Editor’s note: K&B True Value is an Annapolis Green Founding One Hundred Supporter.