By Jim Smith
Editor, Tire Review magazine
Bruce Cherry, owner of Big O locations around Dublin, CA, now knows how to squeeze pennies from thin air. Actually dollars, to be fair.
Cherry and a number of small businessmen in his area joined forces with the California Solar Initiative, which delivers rebates to businesses that install solar electric systems commonly called photovoltaic systems.
Since it started in 2007, the program has helped 155 small businesses in Alameda and Contra Costa counties use state funds to offset some of the cost of installing and using solar-panel generating systems.
So Cherry put solar panels on the roof of his two locations 542 panels in all which generate 50 kw of power, more than enough to meet 85% of each store’s requirements.
Since installing the panels this past March, Cherry as seen his monthly power bill fall (as in “off a cliff”) from $1,500 or so a month to $29. No typo there…$29. That’s the meager connection fee he pays to PG&E to stay on its grid and draw the little power needed to supplement the solar exchange.
Oh, and at the end of the year he may also get a rebate check from PG&E for all of the power he isn’t using. Nice, eh?
So what did the system cost him? After state rebates and federal tax credits, all of around $120,000, which he figures will be earned back in about seven years. Meanwhile, he has not only helped the environment, he has also protected himself from ebbs and flows of utility price volatility. And he’s got something to brag about to his customers.