Dale Hahs II is the third-generation operator and majority owner of AIS, which sells industrial and construction supplies and including divisions that do Tool Repair and Shelving Rack and Lockers. They have been operating as a family business for almost 80 years, and in 2019 in preparation for their 75th anniversary he wanted to do something to ensure the ongoing health of the business for the next generation. They suffered from regular power outages of 2-3 hours, which would shut down their computers and phones, forcing them to close unexpectedly about one day a month. Disrupting both their staff and customer access just did not work for him. A significant part of their business is driven by job site urgencies. They want to be available for new and existing customers when they call, so no one ever needs to call a competitor. Dale looked at kerosene and diesel-powered generators as an option and was seriously considering investing in one of those when their IT provider Charlie with SOS (Small Office Solutions) asked them if they had ever considered solar and referred them to me at Solar 4 Planet A.

The first priority was battery backup for their critical operations: computers, phones, and safety lighting in the warehouses. Complications included a campus of 5 buildings with 5 separate utility meters and different roof surfaces. In looking at the usage for each meter, and which key circuits were connected to each one, we devised a plan for both battery backup and solar that would protect their operations and more than pay for itself just in energy savings.

Batteries by themselves hold a finite amount of power, but when installed with solar they can be continually recharged by the solar arrays. This is a better plan in case of long outages. Also, while the batteries save AIS money in lost revenue and disruptions, that’s not always easy to measure, but Dale figured that his system saves him $22,000 in profit for each outage.

Dale was also interested in adopting the Certifiably Green Denver requirements for sustainability targets and the marketing benefits from that distinction. With help from Scott Rosenzweig at Sustainability Core Advisors we put a plan together to reduce their electricity usage with LED lights (using an Xcel zero cost program), provide essentially all of their power from clean solar energy, and backup their operations with batteries.

My installation partner, Photon Brothers did a fabulous job of integrating all the necessary circuits from the different buildings into the new battery backup panel and managing all the rest of the installation and utility interconnection details. The resulting 66.22 kW of solar power and 4 Tesla Powerwall batteries provides them these benefits:

  • Federal Tax Credit of 30%, Accelerated Depreciation Expense cash value of about 18% and Colorado Enterprise Zone 0.6% credit of the total system cost.

  • In 2023, 91% of their electricity came from their solar panels.

  • Saving them approximately $13,500 / year on their electric bills

  • Earning them $3,730 / year in rebate revenue from Xcel Energy

  • System was activated in December, 2020

  • Produced over 414,000 kWh of clean power as of 3/22/2024.

    • This reduced pollution by: 289 metric tons of CO 2 already!

The solar also keeps the batteries charged during longer outages, keeping them safe, taking calls and making sales, day in and day out. Installed in time for their 75th anniversary, the solar is warranted to take them to their 100th anniversary! Here’s a video of their system.

Here’s a link to the Case Study on Photon Brothers website.

Andrew Ehrnstein