6 Mistakes to Avoid When Getting Solar For Your Business


When selecting a solar contractor to install a large solar PV array for your business, there are many key factors to consider during the selection process. Some are obvious, but many are hidden in the fine print or subdued by elegant proposals with flashy graphics and promises of death-to-carbon-emissions. Important, yes, but in the subtle variances between each proposal could be thousands, even millions of dollars.

1. Cost Only Focus - It is easy to be drawn into the lowest cost bidder. Sometimes the savings can be 100% from one proposal to the next. Cost point is important, yes, It is how we derive our return on investment after all. This is the LAST THING that should be analyzed during the review process. It is also negotiable. At Wave Energy, we focus on all the other technical and financial considerations and assumptions first, then breakdown the cost in a simple form that our clients can understand, and every CPA can then tear apart and verify for accuracy and viability. When you align the finer details, you will find the dollars begin to align as well.

2. 'I Got This' Game-Plan - I work with some extremely intelligent and business savvy clients. They are, after all, successful for a reason. There is no reason to go at this alone. Solar is a a highly technical solution in a brick and mortar construction industry, meaning we have to follow the rules of Construction engineering and permitting, but we also work in the world of technical characteristics, climate histograms, real estate, and long-term investment strategies. Wave Energy can't do it all alone, we partner with experts in each area and utilize a network of resources to get answers and solve problems. Don't be prideful and think doing it yourself will save you, it will cost you in the long-run. Get a team of support and advise.

3. Trusting a Sales Guy - Now this may seem harsh. Heck, I'm a sales and operations guy myself. The truth is, you need unbiased advise and representation. Having a 3rd party advocate is much like having a real estate broker or agent when buying property. They work on commission, but they work for you. Seller pays closing costs. A solar installer sales agent works for that solar installer. Biased.

4. Missing the Warranty Information - Solar Warranties from an efficiency stand-point are pretty straight forward. 20-25 years, 80% of their initial rating. The Operational and Maintenance components of a large solar PV job can be complicated and invaluable. Is workmanship and labor included? How does the monitoring work? Performance and up-time guarantees? Response times? Outsourced or handled by installing contractor? There is a lot to be said about the installation workmanship if an installer is standing behind it for years to come.

5. Waiting - Every business owner I have worked with wanted solar, thought it was a good idea, and were committed to the concept, but very few are committed to the priority. With other operational fires to be put out on a daily basis, it is easy to dismiss solar now. Well, there is a cost to that. Waiting, even as the cost of solar hardware drops, actually costs you money. Don't wait. Put it at the front and allow a team of experts manage the project for you, so you can continue your daily operations. This doesn't mean rush the decision, but its time to turn on the project and get started.

6. Not Critically Reviewing Assumptions - I mentioned this before, but must highlight this one. Read through any solar proposal and you will find assumptions. There will be assumptions on productivity, financial calculations, price of utilities, amount of failures, longevity of systems, downtime, financing, etc, etc, etc. All these assumptions are then rolled up into a number and presented as a return on your investment over time. Small variances lead to much large deviations. Those deviations lead to larger dollar differences. Align the assumptions! Don't let a sales proposal predict the future. The best way to compare apples to apples, is to have apples in both baskets. In other words, request that the proposal submitter align assumptions to your requirements and needs. When you do this, the cost points will hold more value, and the selection process will be better.

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