As a cosmetic surgeon, Dr. Marvin Borsand is accustomed to reshaping patients’ bodies. As a business owner, Borsand just reshaped his offices — and he’s about to reap a windfall in solar energy-related savings.
The BodyNew MedSpa and Body Sculpting Center, 2255 N. Scottsdale Road, is just a few weeks away from having an array of panels on its roof generating electricity. Once online, this will be the first business to take advantage of Salt River Project’s incentives for large-scale solar projects.
The utility’s EarthWise Energy Solar program, said it is paying Borsand about $65,000 for installing the array. That payment help will offset the approximate $190,000 cost for its purchase and installation.
On top of that, there are tax breaks at the federal and state level.
“It’s foolish not to,” Borsand said during a rooftop tour Thursday. “Look at this roof. We were going to do nothing with it, and now it’s functional.”
SRP already has in place an incentive program for residences and businesses whose photovoltaic systems generate less than 10 kilowatts. Perhaps as many as 600 customers — only a small percentage of then-commercial properties — are participating, estimated Jerald “Chico” Hunter, the utility’s senior engineer for renewable energy and technologies.
But Borsand’s business is the first to top that threshold, reaching 29 kilowatts at peak production for about 42,000 kilowatt hours per year. That would generate up to 25 percent of the 12,000-square-foot building’s electricity needs, with its lasers and hyperbaric chamber.
The goal was 30 kilowatts but, Hunter explained, space atop the former Valley National Bank branch was limited. Some square footage was lost to the need to tilt some of panels; the more they are angled perpendicular to the sun’s rays, the more electricity they’ll produce.
Hunter pointed out other challenges, such as ensuring the array was clear of shadows created by walls extending higher than the roof and the panels themselves.
Only the permitting process is keeping the array from turning light into energy. Borsand said that should be resolved in two to three weeks.
While the workers were on the roof, Borsand also had them install “solar tubes,” a passive lighting system that is exactly what it sounds like: a long cylinder extending from the roof down to offices and bathrooms below.
“They’re designed so they bring in just the light, and not the (infrared) section of the spectrum, so you don’t get a heat gain,” Hunter said.
SRP is reimbursing Borsand $2.50 per watt produced, as that incentive package defrays costs up to $500,000. For smaller arrays, the payment is $3 per watt up to $30,000.
Without the payback, the finances for installing against electric bill savings would balance in eight to 10 years, “if we were lucky,” Borsand said.
Now, the break-even point arrives in 3½ years.
“The payback is wonderful and it makes it affordable,” Borsand said. “But the staff likes coming to work in a building that’s efficient and is giving back to the community.”