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Solar firms help clients save energy, money
Solar 1 WEB
Rodney Lord turns off a standard lamp and activates one of the company’s new bulbs, which can be retrofitted into a standard fixture. They emit a much more pleasing color and use a fraction of the energy of a standard bulb. - photo by Jim Dean

Two Forsyth County businesses are working together to help customers harness the power of the sun.

They’re also partners on the largest commercial installation of solar panels in north Georgia.

Energy Solar Systems and its supplier, Solar Energy USA, share space in a facility near McFarland Parkway and Hwy. 9 in south Forsyth.

The companies soon will begin the project at an orthopedic office in Dahlonega.

Michael Chance, marketing manager of Energy Solar Systems, said the installation will allow the office to “see an estimated one-half million dollars in energy savings over 35 years.”

“They will see a reduction in their monthly power bill of more than 15 percent,” he said.

The project will feature 163 solar panels, which will be able to produce about 58,000 kilowatt hours of energy in just the first year of operation.

Chance said leaders of the medical office contacted his company about ways to reduce their high monthly power bills.

“They were paying about $2,000 a month and using over 3,000 kilowatt hours a month,” Chance said. “The average home only uses about 1,000 kilowatt hours a month.”

Chance said the solar companies also worked on what was at that time the largest commercial solar array at an office in Dawsonville. That project used 91 panels.

Chance said the Dahlonega project has begun, but will be held up for a few months as the office seeks a Rural Energy for America Program, or REAP, grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“That grant will save them almost the entire installation cost,” Chance said.

The grant is one of several incentives from the federal and state government for businesses or individual homeowners seeking to add solar energy, said Perry Bell, owner of Solar Energy USA.

“Federally, there’s a 30 percent tax credit and from the state, a 35 percent tax credit, on the total installation cost of the system,” Bell said.

“Sawnee [EMC] also gives a rebate because using solar takes a load off of them.”

Chance said Energy Solar Systems began as a metal roofing company a few years ago.

But with the increased use of solar panels, the company added that business.

“We realized the energy efficiency thing goes right along with the metal roofing business,” Chance said. “There’s a synergy between solar and metal roofing.”

Besides the Dawsonville and Dahlonega projects, Chance said the company has also worked with many clients in Forsyth.

“We’ve worked with a local automotive shop, some other medical offices here in Cumming and a lot of private homes,” he said.

Citing one of their clients, he said a local subdivision recently rewrote some of its homeowner association bylaws, which had previously forbade installing solar panels.

“We hope other HOAs will follow their example and also allow the panels,” he said.

Besides solar energy, the company also specializes in energy-efficient lighting options for homes and businesses.

They also offer solar attic fans, which cool attic areas during the summer months.

Bell said the company has an excess of electricity each month due to its own solar panels.

Due to that surplus, the company is setting up electric vehicle stations where owners can fill up if they are too far from another station.

Bell said the companies are in the business of saving people money.

“The bottom line is the one thing people have control over is how much power they use. It’s all about decreasing those fixed costs,” he said.

“If we can help them take away ‘x’ amount of that fixed cost, we’ve done our jobs right.”