solar panelsWhen Chris Nickell and Stan Komperda bought an old building in downtown Springfield in 2014, they wanted to maintain the building’s external and internal character as much as possible while bringing it up to modern standards and codes.

The building was constructed in 1926 by the local Kerasotes family, and with the top being very flat without shading from the south, this left open the option for a new addition to the roof.

“I am an environmentalist businessman so I try to do things in a manner which makes sense long-term,” Nickell said. “The buildings that surround ours are low enough that our building is unencumbered from a solar standpoint, so it was ripe for development.”

Today, companies around the world are turning to solar energy as an alternative to traditionally supplied electrical energy. It not only provides cost-effective power for the owner, but it also reduces pressures on the electrical grid and can provide security during power outages. Nickell also pointed out that it’s a good use for underutilized square footage.

“Once the system is paid for, it’s almost like having an additional tenant on the roof,” he said.

The business partners took advantage of financial incentives from City Water Light and Power, as well as a tax credit from the federal government. Michelle Knox at Wind Solar USA was contracted to install the solar system on the roof of their building. We provided funding for the overall building project, including the new solar panels and other renovations.

Solar panels are now able to provide electricity to the building – and in the months where the building doesn’t need that electricity, such as mild weather months, CWLP will credit their account with the electricity they are generating but not using. This system is referred to as “net metering.”

“The financial incentives will reduce our payback time to approximately seven years, which means that with the money we put into it now, the project pays for itself in seven years,” Nickell said. “We are looking at the long-term with this project, so it makes sense to us to invest now… for the next 30-plus years, our electrical bill will be much smaller than it would be without the system.”

INB has also worked on a similar solar panel project with GOCOM Media of Northern California. Owner Ric Gorman previously owned GOCOM Media of Illinois, which operated Fox 55 and the WB, and carried his relationship with INB to his new ventures in California.

“Shortly after opening, it came to Ric’s attention that the cost of power in California is extremely high,” noted Pat Edwards, senior vice president of commercial lending at INB. “He noticed there are a lot of companies that have solar panels.” Ric says he ultimately chose to work with Alternative Energy Systems, a Chico-based business.

Alternative Energy installed solar panels and the other necessary equipment. The power generated from the sun goes into the main power grid, and the power company monitors how much power GOCOM supplies to the main grid. In return, GOCOM receives a credit back to the power company.

Edwards said this move is saving GOCOM $160,000 to $200,000 a year, as well as using an environmentally friendly power supply.

“This benefits both our customer and the environment. If something like using solar panels makes sense financially for the business that we’re financing, and it’s environmentally friendly, we’re thrilled to be a part of it,” Edwards concluded.