As more electric vehicles become available in the United States and around the world, EV buyers are not only going to have to charge their own vehicles at home but at work and in public places. This means businesses and workplaces will need to provide customers and employees with EV charging stations. Merit Builders, Inc. is working to tap this market with its solar-powered EV charging stations.
Merit Builders designs and produces a patented solar carport and EV charging station. Now a nationally known company, Merit has specialized in the production of turnkey metal buildings since 1987. On its web site, Merit describes itself as an independent organization “committed to the use of renewable energy sources that reduce dependency on fossil fuels.”
Advocates for change
“We are very much advocates of the change for eliminating combustion engines and replacing them with electric motors,” says Merit CEO David Gochenaur. “We have a long history of doing structures, and the combination of that with solar energy is a good match.”
Merit’s solar carport charging stations power nearby buildings when they are not charging EVs. Merit also builds solar roofing systems designed to lower heating and cooling costs and which save money in the long run.
Solar roofing ultimately “improves the efficiency of the heating system in your building,” explains Gochenaur.
Merit Builders uses thin film solar modules attached to metal roof panels and customizes conventional solar modules to clip onto metal roofing seams.
Merit also specializes in renovating and re-roofing already existing buildings. In 2007, the company restored the hangar that houses one of Goodyear’s world-famous blimps.
Merit Builders systems qualify for Federal Tax Credits for Energy Efficiency. LEED credits are also available. According to Gochenaur, you can attain a Federal Tax Credit up to 30 percent based upon the cost of the solar installation and the support structure.
In terms of Merit’s solar carport charging station, Gochenaur says that companies can receive an alternative fuel credit of about $50,000. However, state tax credit amounts differ from state to state. For example, in Merit’s home state of Maryland, businesses can get a credit of up to $10,000.
Merit also notes that its solar carport and charging station will pay for itself in five to seven years.
Growing interest in solar-powered EV charging
So, why don’t many people know about the combination of EVs and solar energy?
Now, the timing is right — unlike 20 years ago when the first EVs came out. The public is more aware and educated. They are thinking more about alternative energy.
–David Gochenaur, CEO, Merit Builders, Inc.
According to Gochenaur, “The biggest reason people don’t know about it today is that the American public has been fed what the big corporations between oil and auto companies want them to hear. They have the money to spend to advertise and lobby. So their information gets out.”
Public excitement about the environment and renewable energy is also growing. “Now, the timing is right — unlike 20 years ago when the first EVs came out,” Gochenaur explains. “The public is more aware and educated. They are thinking more about alternative energy.”
Gochenaur is optimistic about the future of EVs.
“The future of this technology is wide open As the technology improves, the vehicles are going to become more capable. Cars are going to have 200-300 mile ranges on a single charge,” he predicts.
Gochenaur’s wife has even joined him in the solar-charged driving revolution.
“My wife drives a Tesla,” he explains. “It’s a great little car. Admittedly we bought it as transportation vehicle, and she drives it every day.”
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Gochenaur says that the Tesla is ideal because it accommodates one’s normal driving routine. According to Gochenaur, the Tesla is charged in about an hour at Merit Builders, Inc.’s own company solar charging station.
Merit is one of many companies investing in the solar-charged driving industry and working to get the word out about the combination of electric vehicles and solar energy.
“The whole movement is gaining momentum,” says Gochenaur.
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