Is Your Company Struggling to Meet Its Renewable Energy Mandates?

3 Solutions for Manufacturers and Large Companies Trying to Meet Their Corporate Sustainability Goals

Huge corporations and Fortune 500 companies (53 as of 2018) are grabbing headlines for their swift push into renewable energy, including rooftop solar, solar farms, and wind. 

Impelled by four complimentary motivators, companies like Google, Walmart, GM, and Target are making big dents in their energy bills as they try to reach their renewable energy mandates. Those forces are:

1) Shareholders pushing for corporate sustainability

2) Consumers who want to do business with eco-friendly companies

3) Lowering costs of solar energy 

4) Solar tax credits and savings from depreciation

And it’s not just big retailers going solar. Manufacturers like Nestle and Cummins are pursuing renewable energy as well.

What about your company?

With all this production and press coverage, you might think going solar must be pretty easy for big companies. But the reality for most companies, even large retailers, big manufacturers, and other big energy consumers like hotels, is that hitting your mandates isn’t quite so simple. 

The Primary Struggle Behind Renewable Energy Mandates

Some state and local governments are pushing renewable energy mandates, though most of their attention is fixed on the utilities. The good news is that these are sometimes accompanied by solar tax credits and incentives, But for companies, most of the push toward renewables comes from within their own ranks, not the government. 

They have set goals for themselves, often to great fanfare, but then realized the problem once they tried to reach those goals:

Where do we start, and how do we make this work?

For large manufacturers, for example, going solar isn’t as simple as just putting panels on the roofs of your various facilities. If you have multiple locations, each with different power usage patterns, different utilities with their own sets of rules and regulations, and variations in weather patterns and seasonality – you end up realizing that each location presents its own set of unique challenges.

The engineering and planning can’t just be carbon copied from one location to the next. 

state farm building with solar panels

2 Deeper Problems Behind the Primary One

This reality has led many companies with locations around the country to consider creating a whole new department within their ranks, just to focus on meeting their renewable energy mandates. 

From the shareholder’s mindset, this makes sense. You don’t have the expertise to manage solar installations at all these locations. So go hire people who do and make them part of your team.

Sounds great in theory. The problem? Now you have to vet and hire professionals in an area that has nothing to do with your core business. Then you have to manage them. Fund their work. Pay for their benefits. And what happens if, after six years, they meet your renewable energy mandates? Are they going to be fired with a thank you for a job well done? Re-assigned? To what, exactly?

Creating a whole department focused on renewable energy is like adding a new layer of bureaucracy in government, except this time, it’s in your company. For governments, new bureaucracy is like getting an extra bag of candy on Halloween. But for companies, this is exactly the kind of increased internal expense you want to avoid.

That’s just one underlying problem.

The other depends on your location. While some utilities are very friendly to solar, as they recognize the multiple ways it benefits them as well, other utilities are held back by an unsupported fear of losing revenue to solar generation from their customers. 

We were working with one manufacturing company that wanted to install a 2MW solar array. But the power company told them the maximum they would allow is 100kW. If you’re not sure on the math, that’s 5% of what the company wanted to install.

It all but killed the project before it started.

Arbitrary limits like that are just one tool employed by utilities trying to push back on solar. See other ways utilities can undermine your solar plans.

So what can you do? 

Coastal Solar has developed a process that allows large companies and manufacturers to bypass all of these obstacles. Here are the three solutions to the first three problems just discussed.

Solution 1: Corporate Sustainability Program

The primary struggle for pursuing renewable energy mandates is simple: Where do we start, and how do we make this work? Solar energy, electricity, construction, and engineering of this sort are likely not your areas of expertise. And you don’t have the time or the interest to learn them.

Coastal Solar has created a program for medium to large businesses and manufacturers that operates as a contract-based service. Instead of figuring out how to do this yourself, you can hire us to investigate the feasibility of solar at each location and then manage the entire project – or series of projects – for you, from start to finish. 

We already have the experience and specialized expertise in all the areas required to install small, medium, and large scale solar arrays for companies. 

If you have mandates and are way behind meeting them, our team will help you make up the lost ground and keep your shareholders and customers happy. 

Why add the extra time and expense trying to hire a team to do this yourself?

Learn more about our Corporate Sustainability Program 

Solution 2: Ongoing Project Management for Multiple Sites

To address the deeper problem of installing solar power at multiple locations within your company, the last thing you want is to create a new department. 

Instead, you can work with our team on an ongoing basis – as needed.

This part is so critical, because it could save you millions.

Suppose you run 16 manufacturing facilities in 12 states, and you’re growing. You hire us to evaluate the potential for solar energy at each location. After studying your sites, we determine that nine of them are solar-ready, and seven wouldn’t be appropriate for solar for various reasons. 

Why wouldn’t a site be right for solar? Reasons include things like shading from trees or taller nearby buildings, and roofs not facing the optimal direction to get enough sunlight. Our solar professionals will be able to determine those sorts of details, and give you projections for how much money you will save with a solar array at each location – based on each utility’s rates and regulations (more on that in a bit).

Once we’ve installed the solar array at the nine solar-ready locations, you might continue growing by adding a new facility every two years. 

Rather than waste money paying a full-time renewable energy department while they wait for a new project to work on, you can just call our team back whenever you open a new site, and we can run through the same evaluation and installation process.

In other words, we will be your ‘renewable energy department in a box.’ But we’re on call. You pay no benefits. You hire no one. You fire no one. HR doesn’t have to even know about us. 

With this approach, you’re making an investment, rather than taking on a new expense. And you’ll continue to expand your solar footprint and retain your renewable energy mandates as you expand. 

Solution 3: Proprietary Software & High-Capacity Energy Storage

The last problem is in many ways the most aggravating. If you have facilities being served by solar-unfriendly utilities, meeting your renewable energy mandates can become quite costly and unpleasant. 

See how utilities can wreck your solar energy savings