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Myths and facts about using solar energy in your business

As the cost of electricity continues to skyrocket, many WA businesses are considering the switch to solar. However, there are dozens of claims floating around about solar power – so how can you know which are myths and which are facts?

Claim #1: You can earn money by supplying to the grid.

Fact! Known as a solar feed-in tariff, your business can be paid at or above the current market rate for the electricity your grid-connected solar power system produces. WA has its own feed-in program. At the very least, you should be eligible to offset your energy use costs against what your system produces.

Claim #2: Solar energy always saves your business money.

Myth. If you use most of your power during the day, solar will be financially advantageous. But if you are predominantly using power overnight, solar will not provide as many, if any, savings. Also, kVA and kWh use charges are often broken up into time-of-use rates, including peak, shoulder, and off peak – and solar power may be valued at a mix of these rates.

Claim #3: You’ll never get another electricity bill.

Myth. Solar power will affect most aspects of your energy bill, but not the fixed charges like service access charges.

Claim #4: You’ll get a tax rebate when you buy a solar power system.

Fact! For businesses with a turnover of less than $2 million a year, solar power systems are tax deductible (over two to three years).

Claim #5: All solar products are basically the same.

Myth. We’ve all heard enough about dodgy suppliers and poor quality products over the years to know this isn’t the case. It definitely pays to do your homework and select a reputable supplier and brand.

Claim #6: The solar choice is simply part of the ‘green business’ trend.

Myth. Whilst most businesses make the decision to install solar based at least partly on sustainability concerns, many businesses make the decision to switch to solar because it makes short to long term financial sense.

Claim #7: You can only access solar feed-in tariffs or offsets if you are with the Western Power network.

Myth. Alternative energy retailers are increasingly popular as they have been shown to save businesses money with customised plans, as well as providing competitive feed-in tariff or offset schemes.

Claim #8: You can choose your energy company, whether you’re on solar or the grid.

Fact! Many WA business owners and landlords have no idea that, if they meet particular criteria, they have the right to choose their preferred electricity retailer. Western Power is an electricity provider, providing the infrastructure for creating and moving the energy around. Electricity retailers then supply this power to the end user.

Claim #9: Okay, there are alternative suppliers, but most businesses are not eligible to choose.

Myth. The requirements are simply that you must be connected to the Western Power network (check this map), and be considered a large use customer consuming more than 160 megawatt hours of electricity per year, equating to approximately $1200 per month.

Energy is often one of the biggest costs for a business and solar can be a great solution, if you fully understand your energy needs, usage patterns and your business’ sustainability and cost saving goals.

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About the Author:

Aidan Jenkins is a solar power expert from Blue Star Energy, an alternative electricity retailer in WA.

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