Generate, Conserve, Contribute
Updated: Apr 19, 2022
Did you know that Canoe Kentucky is a Net Zero business? What does this mean? How did we choose this route? What did the process look like? Let's take a look.
In 2021, we installed a solar system on our Peaks Mill shop, producing clean energy from beautiful sunshine. Rather than a battery storage system, we are connected to the main electricity grid, feeding any excess energy we produce back to the utility company. For example, on a hot, sunny summer day, our solar system could produce 100 kW/hours of energy. In that same day, our shop may consume 50 kW/hours. The extra 50 kW/hours of energy goes back to the utility company, who can use that energy anywhere it's needed.
Then, on a shorter, colder winter day, we may only generate 25 kW/hours, but consume 50 kW/hours. The utility company provides us with those extra kW/hours we had banked in the sunny summertime. At the end of the year, if the system is set up correctly, we will have produced as much energy as we consumed- designating Canoe Kentucky as a Net Zero business.
We began this process in January 2021, starting by interviewing three different solar companies and weighing our options. We ultimately chose Solar Energy Solutions out of Lexington, as they created an impressive and comprehensive report on what we needed and had the most competitive price. Our install began in May 2021 and took about 2 weeks. Solar Energy Solutions installed the panels, setting them at specific angles to get the best sun exposure, in addition to squirrel guards, a netting that protects the underside of the panels. Two boxes were installed on the side of our building that direct the energy to our shop, as well as back to the grid. The system was properly labeled, as per local code, to indicate to any emergency personnel that we are connected to a solar system in case of an emergency.
Once the system was installed, Solar Energy Solutions contacted the local inspector and had the system approved and certified. The utility company then came and swapped out our meter for a net meter, which allows energy to flow in and out of the system. After that, our system was live and we could let the sun do the work!
We have an app on our phones (example image below) that allows us to track the energy we are producing- other than that, this system is totally hands off. You don't even know it's there- until tree trimming season, to keep the sun shining bright on the panels!
We decided to go solar for a few reasons. Most importantly, producing clean energy is one way that we can care for our environment. If we can do one small thing to help, then we should- we all should!
Secondly, after putting pencil to paper and researching tax incentives and other discounts, we discovered that the solar system we designed would pay itself off in about 10-12 years- a pretty good rate of return on any investment. The system pays for itself as our local utility company buys back energy at a rate of 100%, which means if we produce x, they buy x. Some utility companies only buy back at percentages, meaning you produce x, they buy half of x.
Lastly, our decision to go solar has become another interesting chapter in the Canoe Kentucky story. Like any small business, our story is very important to us, and we want our dedicated customers to know that we are in this business for the right reasons, and that we practice what we preach about environmental responsibility.
Have we been happy with our decision? YES! We are proud of the fact that we are doing our part. We are able to produce energy for our own needs as well as give energy back, at certain times of the year, so others can use it. This has also been an investment for the future- the next owners of Canoe Kentucky, whether family or otherwise, won't have to worry about the business' utility costs. We would absolutely do it again and are happy to advise anyone, homeowner or business owner, who is considering the same path.