Solar has a ton of benefits — reduced utility bills, carbon reductions, and revenue creation — but the market is fragmented and confusing, leading many building owners to make crucial mistakes throughout their project. If you’re a commercial building owner considering solar, avoid these three common mistakes to save money, time, and energy.
💡 Mistake #1: Sole-sourcing instead of competitively bidding
When you remodel your home, do you go to a single contractor, ask them for a quote, trust the price, and buy it? No! You probably shop around with multiple contractors, compare prices, negotiate a little, and then buy it.
Solar is no different, and, unfortunately, one of the biggest mistakes that first-time buyers make is working with a single solar provider to analyze, quote, and build their project.
This is a costly mistake, as the solar providers has maximum leverage over your project’s price since they don’t have any other providers to compete against. You can always try to negotiate the price, but solar is a complex construction project with dozens of cost components (installation, maintenance, warranty, labor, etc.). To ensure a fair and competitive process, the best thing to do is issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) to multiple solar providers to get price-competitive bids.
Based on Station A’s own data, these bids can differ in price by 30-50% (from the lowest to the highest bid), which can save you tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Issuing an RFP can be a huge headache, since you have to ask the right questions and find the right providers, but Station A can run your RFP at no charge through our marketplace of 2,000+ qualified providers.
💰 Mistake #2: Hiring an expensive broker or sustainability team to analyze your project
It’s always tempting to over-analyze the exact placement, design, location, and economics of your solar system before you go to the market to ask for system prices, but this “analysis paralysis” often leads to months of indecision that slows or even halts a solar project. Worse yet, you might hire an expensive analyst or team to conduct this analysis. All of this is unnecessary, as you can get quality analysis at little to no charge in two main ways:
- Contact a local solar provider and ask for a free analysis. More likely than not, the provider will be happy to conduct a professional analysis at no charge because they want to win your business.
- Work with a trusted solar marketplace, like Station A, to conduct a professional analysis at no charge. Since Station A is not a solar provider, we will not push you to work with any single provider and, instead, encourage you to get multiple bids via our marketplace.
The obvious downside to option #1 is that the solar provider is biased to win your business, so they can find ways to juice the project financials and try to convince you to start the project with them. Station A does not have this inherent bias and you’ll have no obligation to work with us after you get your analysis.
🧠 Mistake #3: Misunderstanding bids
If you avoid Mistake #1 and run a competitive RFP, great! Now comes the difficult work: deciphering the solar lingo in your bids.
If you’ve never heard of phrases like solar production guarantee, escalation rates, degradation rates, or specific yield, evaluating your bids can be a huge headache.
Similar to Mistake #2, you might hire an expensive expert to help you decipher your bids. Or — if you have a solar expert on your team — you might not run into this issue at all (but most commercial building owners are probably not solar experts). Fortunately, solar marketplaces like Station A will not only help you source competitive bids for your solar project, but also understand the bids through an apples-to-apples layout and expert advising.
The moral of the story is that, when you’re undertaking a solar project worth hundreds of thousands of dollars (or even millions), you should be prudent about who you’re sourcing your project from and how much money you’re spending to analyze and understand your project.
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