How to invest in solar energy at your dealership and what the tax benefits are

The new federal tax code has made solar energy a no-brainer investment for NH businesses. Here's how you can get in on these tax incentives.

Have you heard about the excellent new opportunity for NH auto dealers to make money, attract more customers and retain the best employees? The new federal tax code has made solar energy a no-brainer investment for NH businesses because it adds 100 percent bonus depreciation in year one to the powerful 30 percent investment tax credit for solar electric systems. This means your dealership can recoup roughly half of its initial capital investment in twelve months or less (and this doesn't even factor in NH state cash incentives for solar).

Because sunshine is free and solar panel costs have fallen, there's never been a better time to invest in a solar project that will save you thousands of dollars in utility bills and make your customers and employees happy about your commitment to environmental sustainability. 

As more drivers explore electric vehicle options, solar energy is becoming a natural next step because people realize they can charge their vehicle battery with sunshine to avoid the cost and hassle of weekly stops at the gas station. This rapidly growing cohort of vehicle shoppers is attracted to businesses that are mirroring the clean energy transition gathering momentum throughout New England.

"Since 2010, the cost of solar technology has dropped more than 75 percent, enabling NH business owners to derive a powerful economic and environmental return on their solar investment," said Dan Clapp, a co-founder of Brentwood, NH-based ReVision Energy.

ReVision Energy has designed and installed cost-effective solar energy systems for a number of dealerships, including Contemporary Automotive's new facility in Milford. Dealer Principal David Hammer believes "environmental stewardship is a responsibility shared by all."

"When planning our new facility," said Hammer, "we decided to put our money where our mouth is — identifying and including several economically viable sustainable components to the finished product. These range from high-impact features such as the 450-panel, 150,000-kilowatt hour capacity solar array on the roof, LED lighting, and used motor oil as a primary heat source, to low-flow fixtures, energy-efficient electric hand dryers, under-slab insulation and stormwater management systems that reduce runoff. We are unapologetically in the business of selling and servicing vehicles that impact the environment. If we collectively work to offset some of the impact, our environment and industry's reputation will be better for it."

Dealerships are saving money with LED lighting, which can reduce utility costs by more than 50% per year. The latest LED technology is cost-competitive with traditional lighting but their energy demand is a tiny fraction of fluorescents and incandescents.

Hampton Ford Hyundai in North Hampton and Grappone Auto Group in Bow have also partnered with ReVision Energy to install solar arrays. Hampton Ford Hyundai powers its body shop with solar electricity. Owner Jay McFarland appreciates the trend toward renewable energy. "Want to be cool like me? Go solar."

Steve Savoy, business line controller at Grappone Auto Group, says, "We have been happy with our solar investment. Our guests appreciate that we are trying to do our part environmentally, and our team members like working for a company that is doing the right thing." While installing solar electric panels at Grappone, ReVision Energy also installed electric vehicle charging stations for guests and team members to fill up on sunshine.

NH auto dealers who sell plug-in vehicles will have the chance to get significant benefits in the months ahead as the state begins spending millions of dollars of VW emissions scandal settlement money to build EV charging infrastructure along major travel corridors and begins devising a streamlined regulatory policy to hasten transportation electrification. ReVision Energy is providing technical guidance to the state on the rollout of the EV charging dollars and is always seeking ways to partner and promote clean transportation.

To learn more about how your dealership can save money and capitalize on clean energy incentives, visit or email Christina Zlotnick.