Capital Sun Group, and our affiliate, Capital Sun – Idaho, built our first solar energy installation in Idaho at the Best Western Foothills Inn on Highway 20 in Mountain Home. Johnson Brothers Hospitality, LLC, (JBH), Mountain Home, engaged Capital Sun in 2009 to conduct a solar energy assessment of three of its hotel properties. The feasibility study focused on solar thermal energy systems for water heating, swimming pool heating, and space heating. These are the most cost effective solar applications, and Johnson Brothers selected the Best Western for its first project. Capital Sun analysis estimated that the systems will save the Best Western 60 to 70% of the natural gas it consumes.
David Johnson, Chief Financial Officer of JBH, said that his company is committed to improving its environmental profile and that making its properties more energy efficient goes straight to improving the bottom line. “Going solar is a smart decision for us, especially in the hospitality industry, at many levels.“ The solar system consists of twenty-one SunEarth flat plate solar collectors for heating room service and laundry water, and fourteen additional collectors for the heating the Spa and the swimming pool. The service hot water panels are 40 square feet in size and the pool heating panels are 21 square feet. The large system has a 900 gallon solar storage tank and the smaller system storage volume is 360 gallons. The two systems are fully automatic and also include data monitors to track the solar energy delivered, which validates performance and savings.
Capital Sun also collaborated with JBH to prepare grant proposals to the Renewable Energy for America Program at the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Agency. Working with Tim Wheeler in the Caldwell USDA office, JBH received two grants to conduct an energy audit of the hotel and to pay some of the costs of the solar installation. Capital Sun Vice President Albert Nunez, a certified energy manager with decades of experience in energy conservation and solar energy technologies, oversaw the energy audit. Capital Sun is an unusual solar company in that it advocates implementing cost effective energy conservation measures alongside solar systems to shorten investment payback time and increase the contribution that solar systems make to each site it works on.
JBH is taking advantage of the federal solar investment tax credit, which amounts to 30% of the project cost, and the five-year accelerated federal depreciation schedule for solar energy systems. This rapid depreciation tax deduction can offset as much as 18% more of the system costs in the first 6 years of operation. With the incentives available, and no inflation in natural gas cost, the solar systems should pay back the JBH investment in four years, JBH could also apply for an Idaho Office of Energy Resources low-interest loan programs for energy efficiency projects, and for active solar, wind, geothermal, hydropower and biomass. The interest rate is 4% with a 5-year repayment term. Loans are available for retrofit only, with the exception of some renewable resources.
Capital Sun Group – Idaho
2124 W. Lonesome Dove St.
Meridian, ID 83646
Mobile: (208) 908-8801