DT+DAR

First, I’d like to congratulate you on considering solar for your business. I know it’s a financial commitment, and it’s one you’ve spent months — if not years — penciling out to fit into a neat box on your P&L.

But now begins the often equally taxing process of deciding who will install the solar panels on your roof/garage, etc. If you’ve never installed solar before, you’re likely feeling overwhelmed. Where do you even start?

I’d suggest you start by looking for a company that can handle your project from the beginning (design, permitting and the like) to end (ribbon-cutting, commissioning and interconnection) — and beyond (all the way to operations-and-maintenance).

Why? Here are four reasons engaging such a company makes sense (Editor’s Note: The construction portion of your project should be a given, which is why we’re not addressing it here. If they have a lousy reputation for poor installations, we’re assuming they’re not on your radar as a potential partner.):

1)     They understand financing. Don’t listen to the analysts who tell you there’s no financing for commercial projects. They’re lying to you (or at least are woefully ignorant). The financing is there — but you do have to know where to look. The right company will know where those sources are and will provide the best deal for you (and ideally, the company will be able to self-finance your project through its strategic partnerships).

2)    They understand the permitting process. If you haven’t been through the solar permitting process before, you do not want to go through it alone. It’s an area where experience counts, and having the right support will get your project on the roof as quickly as possible.

3)    They understand the often-arcane and complicated rules for adding solar to the grid. As the project winds down and the time comes to navigate the sometimes murky waters of interconnection and commissioning protocols, you’d better have a company that knows the rules and how to follow them. Remember, a project isn’t truly completed until it’s turned on and producing power — and your partner must have experience dragging projects across the finish line.

4)    They’ll be with you long after the installation to guarantee what they installed continues to justify your investment. Don’t make the mistake I’ve seen so many project owners make — plan for the operations-and-maintenance of your project before it even starts. After all, if the installation isn’t producing the amount of promised power, then you’ve made this investment in your solar array for naught. And who better to make sure it works up to its potential than the company that has seen the project take shape from the beginning?

But the best part of having a one-stop shop for your solar array is that you have a central clearinghouse for all aspects of your projects. Having one company handling it all means finding out about progress, problems and prognoses is as easy as picking up the phone and calling one project manager. Think of the time (and worry) that will save you in the long run.

Once again, I’d like to congratulate you on the excellent business decision you’ve made to consider installing solar on your commercial rooftop — and I hope you keep these four points in mind as you select the appropriate contractor for the job.