Most of our customers see annual savings a 20% or more. Additionally, many of them also select a third-party-financing option, allowing them to not use any of their own money to develop and build the solar array.
Interview with Jason Slattery, Director of Solar at GEM Energy
Jason Slattery | GEM Energy
Please tell us a bit about GEM Energy and your role in the Alternative Energy Industry?
GEM Energy, a turn-key energy solutions company, provides innovative ways for our commercial and industrial customers to save money on their operating budget through: solar, CHP (combined heat and power), efficiency, and energy management. Additionally, GEM Energy has become a leading national solar developer and EPC, offering no out-of-pocket cost solar solutions for our customers.
What are the benefits of considering bringing solar power on board as an investment for the future?
Solar is cost effective. On-site solar power allows our commercial and industrial customers to produce power immediately, saving them money, improving their energy usage profile. It also locks in their rates long term with precise predictability and provides a clean source of power generation.
Solar can be the most cost-effective source of power generation. It produces the electricity during the daylight hours when many businesses use the most power and typically costs the most for utilities to produce the power. Because solar is home grown, it’s a great investment. You can’t outsource this on-site power generation. Solar is out of site/out of mind: There are few maintenance items needed with solar, allowing for it to work day in and day out with 99.5% predictability over the course of a year.
What sort of utilities incentives are out there to encourage more solar installations across the United States?
Federal: ITC (Investment Tax Credit). This is around 30% of eligible system costs. Accelerated depreciation: (5) year MACRS depreciation. State: Many states offer smaller incentives or tax reductions on solar generation.
How do solar projects begin?
Many of our opportunities are proactive ones that we take to a customer. We show them there is a lot of value for them to use solar without any CAPEX to immediately save money on the electricity they need to run their business. Many other opportunities come from word of mouth: When someone hears about what GEM Energy has done for our other customers and when they see the quality of our work, they reach out to us. We serve as their trusted advisor and treat them as customers for life. 75% of our customers engage us again as repeat business for other projects and needs.
What steps are needed to develop and install a solar array after the initial planning?
We start by looking at the economic value. If the economics are not attractive, the project probably doesn’t make sense to pursue. We size up solar arrays based on a customer’s load profile (when & how much electricity they use). Next, we look at how much they are currently paying for the power. We then perform a constructability review, looking at the cost to build and connect electrically to their system. Next, we present a road map from start to finish, providing several options to allow the customer to choose the best option for them.
Will there be ongoing maintenance after the system is installed?
Yes, as with any mechanical system, normalized maintenance is required/recommended to ensure the longevity of this 25-plus year asset.
How will the client know how well the system is doing and how much they are saving?
Our customers see their savings as early as on their first monthly power bill from the utility. They can see how much they previously spent before solar and how much they spend after solar. One amazing fact about solar is there are no fuel inputs. The sun is free so our customers get this long-term predictability for the life of our solar arrays.
Can you tell me about some successful solar array installations that are seeing true ROI?
Most of our customers see annual savings a 20% or more. Additionally, many of them also select a third-party-financing option, allowing them to not use any of their own money to develop and build the solar array. Under these financing structures, we give them a power bill, and they simply pay for the electricity received. This is especially attractive for our non-tax paying customers who can take full advantage of the tax incentives through this third-party structure.
About Jason Slattery
From an early age, Jason wanted to pursue a career that incorporated both technology and innovation. He earned a degree in construction management from Bowling Green University and began consulting on estimating software implementation in the field. He then joined the Rudolph Libbe Inc. team in preconstruction and special accounts preconstruction. A project management role followed until he discovered the opportunities in solar. Jason’s initial interest in solar came about as he saw the demand for solar systems in the industry increase, particularly the design/build and maintenance aspects. It became clear that this was a viable business and solar was established as a standalone group within the Rudolph Libbe Group of companies. Now part of GEM Energy, Jason leads daily solar operations - from business development and customer interaction to guiding a team of project managers and personnel in the field - with a hands-on and detail-oriented approach. He takes pride in bringing up talent and paving the way to success.
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