As one of the most recognizable convenience stores in Chico, Star Liquors on Nord Avenue has grown over the past sixty years from a small liquor store offering the usual suspects to a behemoth where even the rarest of items can be found. The store’s meteoric success and explosive growth over the past decade though can be attributed to Keshav Pabbi and his brother. After 11 years in business, they found that their customers’ wants far outweighed the space they had to provide it all. They decided it was time to expand.
Less than a few hundred feet away, the property that once housed Burger Hut became available and the brothers jumped at the opportunity. Looking to build the ideal location, they tripled the footprint of their original location and set out to better every facet of their old location, paying close attention to its efficiency. With the increase in size came significant increases in cost, one of the most noticeable being their monthly PG&E bill. From $1,800 per month at their old location, the cost grew to over $3,000 per month at the new location. Even though the new building had been built to be more energy efficient, the sheer size of the building, along with its many refrigeration units and lighting took significant energy to keep it humming along. Keshav and his brother began looking into ways to cut energy costs without sacrificing the vision for their store.
Having seen the new Star Liquors during its many phases of construction, Sean McCreary of Urban Design Solar stopped in to talk to Keshav about the potential benefits of going solar. As the roof was flat and wide open with a clear view of the sky, it was the perfect candidate for a solar array. Keshav mentioned his concerns regarding his exorbitant PG&E bills and the nearly $15,000 increase in energy alone versus the old location. Sean listened and discussed the various options that were available to alleviate the cost long term, one of which was a full-roof solar array. This option made the most sense to Keshav. At 140 panels, the solar array would bring his monthly PG&E bill down to approximately $1,200, saving him $1,800 per month in conventional energy costs. By using the entirety of the savings to pay off the cost of the solar array each month, Keshav would expect to see a complete payoff in less than four years, at which point he could expect an extra $21,600 free cash in his business each year thereafter for the life of the solar array.
Keshav reached out to a national solar contractor for another bid but found that the cost was nearly the same.
“I got the estimate from three people,” Keshav said. “[Sean was] the only one that I trusted. He said he would beat everyone’s price and he did. He did a very good job, too. Plus he’s local.”
When he reached back out to Sean to get started on the project, Keshav expressed his goal of having the project completed before the new year, and Sean and his crew did just that, beginning the install on December 14th and finishing on December 31st.
“They were very friendly and reliable,” Keshav said about the Urban Design Solar installation crew. “They did a very good job.”
Throughout the installation process, Keshav said that the workers left the job site clean every night and finished the project quickly.
Keshav not only sees the value of his solar array, but also the value of working with Sean.
“Some people show you something and they give you something else. I have no issues here. If I call him, he gives me some of the best service. If I call him now, he’ll be here in 15 minutes. He always answers when I call.”
One year and four months later, Keshav is seeing the amazing benefits of the solar array. With his PG&E bill knocked down to $1,200 per month, the savings are quickly paying back the cost of the solar array, and have guaranteed him a fixed rate on the majority of his energy bills each month. Though PG&E rates may increase, and they likely will as they have historically, he can count on a consistent cost from this point forward for much of his energy usage. When it comes to business, increases in overhead can be a killer, but by fixing the rate of one of his largest monthly costs, Keshav can make better business decisions to guarantee continued success.
When asked about his experience, Keshav says, “You definitely save money by going with solar, and Sean knows what he’s doing. He’s not only friendly, but his service is great as well. I would definitely recommend him to anyone else who’s thinking about going solar.”
With tax benefits and a huge guaranteed payoff in the long run, it’s no surprise that so many people are going solar. If you own a home or business, you may be missing out on large potential savings. Call Urban Design Solar and set up an appointment today for a free energy analysis!
NEM 2.0 What is NEM and What You Need To Know
The Net Energy Metering (NEM) Program monitors and sets a rate on energy that is fed back into the power grid through solar energy systems. Much of the savings seen by an average solar energy user comes through energy that is bought back by PG&E from your solar array when the energy produced isn’t being used to provide energy to your home or business. These rates are fixed for each program and guaranteed for 20 years, but each program has a megawatt (MW) limit. The limit for the current NEM program is quickly reaching capacity. In March of 2016, PG&E noted that they have only have 435.43 MW left of their total available capacity of 2,409 MW. Once capacity is reached, the current rates will no longer apply and a new set of rates will be adopted which includes new fees that increase the cost of going solar. Those hoping to make it into the current NEM program should move quickly. To qualify for the NEM program, the solar installation must be completed and the appropriate paperwork filed which can take time and delays are not uncommon. The sooner your solar installation is scheduled, the better your chances of fitting into the current NEM program before NEM 2.0 is adopted.