Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How Much Money Could I Save with Solar?

That depends.  You could potentially save thousands of dollars each year with a new solar system.  One of our nonprofit clients that installed solar already reported saving as much as $1,000 a month on their summer cooling bill.  There is also a payback time on any new investment you make, including solar.  Today’s grants and tax incentives or direct pay are helping businesses, nonprofits and sometimes individuals, all get a jumpstart on that return on investment they’re making through solar energy.


How Do I Read My Utility Bill?

Your local utility company is billing you by kilowatt hours (kWh).   You can see how many kWh you used in a given month.  You can also see the rate of how many cents per kWh you are being charged, which determines much of your monthly bill.  A few other ways your monthly bill can vary is by the type of service your utility is billing you (residential, general, industrial, etc.), whether you are paying time-of-use rates for higher costs during certain times, and demand charges if your electrical usage exceeds certain thresholds.

If we design a solar system for you, we’ll be comparing your kWh used with what the system can produce to offset that.  There are also ways we can potentially help your business curb those hefty demand charges.

A starting point in understanding what you can offset with solar is to get the most accurate look possible at how much electricity you are using now.


Do Federal Grants & Tax Incentives Really Help Pay for Solar?

Yes, many other business owners right now are taking advantages of generous federal grants and tax incentives involving solar energy!  It is ultimately up to you and your accountant to determine your own tax situation and how to apply these.

Solar Alliance does offer grant application services for the USDA Rural Energy for America Program, which currently in 2023 is providing 50% grant assistance for eligible, approved solar projects.  This grant percentage is subject to change.  Typically, small businesses in areas of population under 50,000 can be eligible for REAP.  They need not be agricultural businesses, although they can be.

The US Federal Solar Tax Credits explained here are also very generous, with many businesses planning on taking a base credit amount of at least 30%.   Through the Direct Pay option in lieu of this same tax credit, many nonprofits are also planning to receive at least a 30% break on their solar projects, as well.


How Does Solar Help Meet Corporate Sustainability Goals?

Chances are, you have a corporate mandate or are developing some kind of goals to improve environmental sustainability.  Maybe you want to reduce your carbon emissions, reduce waste, contribute to cleaner air quality or simply save operating expenses by hedging against the rising cost of various fuels.

Solar has become an obvious lower-cost choice for renewable energy, backed by research from the Department of Energy and others.  Solar Alliance can work with your company to assess your current energy usage, future needs, opportunities to conserve energy, and return on investment for a solar installation.  We offer energy evaluation and monitoring services that can go hand in hand with plans for adding renewables.  We can oversee a solar design and installation project from start to finish that builds equity for you while beginning to cut your monthly utility expenses.


What Does the Age of My Heating/Cooling System or My Roof Have to Do with My Decision about Solar?

Before adding renewable energy production like solar, it’s a good idea to evaluate your current usage and reduce what you can.  For instance, if your heating and air unit needs replacing, and a newer unit offers higher energy efficiency, that probably reduces how much electricity you’ll need to produce to operate that HVAC unit.  Most photovoltaic panels come now with at least a 25-year warranty.  So, if your roof needs replacing soon, it might be a good idea to make that upgrade first before installing a PV system.


Does Solar Always Mean Being Off the Grid?

No, going solar does not necessarily being off the grid.  In fact, we suggest you stay connected to your current power grid and let us navigate what is involved for the interconnection process.  You can have the resilience of being part of your local utility while also beginning to produce at least a portion of your own electricity through solar.  Unlike Tennessee, some states in the Southeast also offer net metering options that might allow you to sell back a portion of the electricity you produce to the local utility.


Why Choose Solar Alliance?

Now that solar has become mainstream, we understand that you’ll hear “we do solar,” or “we build solar” from lots of corners.  The professionals at Solar Alliance are building on years of experience going back more than a decade, to a time when few solar professionals were in the business.  We bring together resources to evaluate, design a system, pay attention to the proper electrical and infrastructure aspects, get engineering details completed, and oversee the entire project from start to finish.  We know what it takes to work with utilities, codes inspectors, your company’s engineers and more.   We can handle monitoring, maintenance, even cleaning your modules in the years to come.  We don’t just build solar.  We build relationships, trust and long-term value for you.


How Can I Get Started?

Let us know here who you and your company are, where you are located and what your motivation is for going solar.  Prepare to share with us your last twelve month’s of utility bills or your estimate of that if you are developing a new construction project.  We do NOT offer financing, so if you need that, start with your local trusted lender or a nonprofit like Pathway Lending that specializes in energy loans.


How Can My Community Learn More about Solar?

Solar Alliance now offers a Solar 101 class as a community service.  This class is approved in Tennessee for two hours of Residential Continuing Education for building contractors.  It is also awaiting CE approval to benefit real estate agents.  If you have a community of professionals needing this CE credit, or if your organization would simply like to host the class to educate the public, contact to make arrangements.  We do not charge a fee for the class, except for in-kind help or $5 per pupil to print class packets, and any travel/lodging expenses for classes in Tennessee 60 miles beyond our office in Knoxville.