New Bedford Solar Company Goes Net-Zero

Company’s solar system eliminates power costs
By Charis Anderson

Beaumont Sign has installed solar panels on its own building to generate electricity to run the business. John Sladewski/The Standard-Times

Beaumont Solar, after helping its customers reduce or eliminate their electricity bills since 2007, finally decided late last year to do something about its own power bills.
“If we’re doing this for our customers, we really have to do it for ourselves,” said Phil Cavallo, owner of Beaumont Solar.
The 23-kilowatt, 72-panel solar photovoltaic system on the roof of the company’s building at 200 North St. went live on Jan 1. and just five months later, it is generating more than enough electricity to power the entire building, according to Cavallo.
By mid-May, the system was generating enough electricity to power the North Street building with some left over that Cavallo’s house on Cape Cod can use, according to Cavallo.
Between Jan. 1 and May 27, the system had generated about 11,700 kilowatt hours, or more power than two single-family residences would use in an entire year, said Cavallo.
The system cost about $165,000, and Cavallo was able to take advantage of different state and federal incentives that covered essentially the entire cost.
The company qualified for a $64,000 rebate from the state as well as a $49,000 rebate from the federal government, according to Cavallo. Then the company was able to take 85 percent of the system’s cost as depreciation, which had a value to the company of about $50,000.
“It’s in; it’s paid for,” said Cavallo. “We’re not (just) net-zero. We’re net negative.”
There is additional room on the building’s roof for more solar panels, and Cavallo said he intended to add additional solar panels at some point in the future.
“There’s an economic advantage to doing it,” he said.
Beaumont Solar grew out of an existing business — Beaumont Sign Co. — that Cavallo purchased in 2006.
After the sign business started to decline in the beginning of 2008, Cavallo looked to solar installations as a way to diversify his business and preserve jobs.
“We have to focus on new and emerging sectors,” said Matthew Morrissey, executive director of the New Bedford Economic Development Council. “Beaumont Solar sits right between the existing and the new.”
The NBEDC provided bridge financing to Cavallo as he was expanding into solar installations.
Mayor Scott W. Lang said he was excited about the work Cavallo and Beaumont Solar were doing.
“With Beaumont Solar, it’s the perfect example of the city, the state and federal governments, partnering with a local business,” he said.
May 30, 2010 12:00 AM
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