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Gould’s Clothing and Retail Plaza: Tailor-Made Solar Savings

Goulds Case Study

Solar Electric System

“When it comes down to it, I’m running a business. In the end, it was the numbers that sealed the deal.”

Solar energy is a perfect fit at Gould’s Clothing and retail plaza in Acton, MA. In 2012, a 230-panel solar system was turned on at the 78,000-square-foot commercial property. Five years later, the solar numbers are unfolding as planned: The system paid for itself in under four and a half years, the owners are enjoying decades of electricity savings in the order of $10,000 a year, and annual SREC revenue of around $15,000 through 2022, just for producing their own green energy.

The Gould family built the plaza in 1972 to house the family business — Gould’s Clothing, a specialty clothing shop, which opened its doors in 1934 and is now managed by brothers Lester and Marvin Gould. Quality custom tailoring and experienced staff are the threads that bind this exceptional family business.

In 2011, drawn to the benefits of renewable energy, Lester talked with a few companies about using the dormant space on the plaza’s distinctive red metal roof to generate solar energy in Acton. He liked the concept, but the investment needed to be financially viable with a reasonable payback period. The numbers from New England Clean Energy projected that their solar panel installation would have a payback period of about four years, with continued savings and income generation thereafter.

Gould selected Clean Energy to custom design and install a 43-kW solar energy system on the south-facing roof of the plaza. “New England Clean Energy is a very professional local company that offers great support,” he explains.

Five years later, the pattern of savings is clear. The initial investment of $200,000 was reduced by $77,000 in federal and state tax credits. Electricity savings and SREC income paid off the rest of the investment by fall of 2016.

“Solar is proving to be a great investment. The kilowatt-hours have exceeded estimates. The system paid for itself in less than four and a half years. We are very happy we made this decision,” Gould says.

The solar energy system is quite a fashion statement for the retailer, too, with customers and passers-by venturing into the store to ask about the solar panels. “The system is attractive and definitely has a positive PR impact,” Gould confirms.

“I feel great that I was an early adopter of solar, but when it comes down to it, I’m running a business, so the tax credits make all the difference in the world. There has to be a financial payback to make it viable. In the end, it was the numbers that sealed the deal.”