Incentives make solar energy feasible in Qns

Solar panels are money savers on the Swing Staging building in Long Island City. Photo courtesy Con Edison
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The sun has powered the solar system for billions of years, so it’s about time business on this planet use that power to save some money.

Looking to cut costs on the company’s electric bill, officials at Swing Staging Inc., at 49-47 31st St. in Long Island City, looked into many different possible power sources, including some that have not even been invented yet.

Joel Arguelles, the company’s vice president of operations and marketing, said Swing Staging had considered solar energy before, but the cost always seemed to outweigh the benefits.

“The investment never made sense financially,” he said, until lucrative government incentives burned bright in the sky.

“Finally it seems solar power systems are starting to get some incentives from the government and it has become financially feasible,” Arguelles said. “Now the financial gains are obvious — plus, we are contributing to the health of the planet by reducing our carbon dioxide output.”

Swing Staging recently purchased a nearly 50-kilowatt solar generating system for the company’s warehouse and office building. This cost-cutting and greenhouse gas-reducing move is becoming popular in Queens, where the borough leads the city in solar installations.

According to energy provider Con Edison, Queens leads the five boroughs with 168 solar installations, generating 3,420 kilowatts of energy. Officials at Con Edison attributed Queens’ solar numbers to the abundance of roof space on large commercial buildings.

Arguelles said his company has seen a $100 drop per electric bill, with more benefits to come. He also said his company is enjoying the bragging rights of being one of the first businesses in the area with solar power.

“It feels great to say that other businesses in the area will soon follow our lead,” he said. “Why wouldn’t you want to save money and help the environment at the same time?”

John Pantanelli, owner of Swing Staging, echoed Arguelles, saying that any money saved can further the business.

“We’ve cut our electric bills dramatical­ly,” said Pantanelli, the owner of Swing Staging. “That’s money that we can put into building our business. And as an outdoorsman, I’m happy to help protect the environment. I want my children and all future generations to enjoy a safe, clean planet.”

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority put $87,000 toward Swing Staging’s $250,000 solar array. In addition, Swing Staging will get federal tax credits and New York City property tax breaks, reducing its costs to $90,000.

Factor in savings on electricity and depreciation, and Swing Staging can expect to recoup its investment in less than five years, according to Con Ed.

“Con Edison encourages its customers to look into whether they can save money by installing photovoltaic panels on their homes and businesses,” said a Con Ed representative.

Reach reporter Steve Mosco by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4546.

Updated 10:28 am, April 19, 2012
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