By Jen Slothower, April 23, 2010. Malden—With clean energy alternatives becoming more popular across the Bay State and the nation, one Malden-based business recently found out firsthand the benefits of installing solar panels and energy-efficient lighting.

For SunSetter Products, it was a unique twist on what the company had been doing all along — helping people use the sun to their advantage.

“It’s an interesting cycle in a way, or a circle, when we use the good part of the sun in one way, collecting electricity, to protect people against the bad part of the sun,” said Ido Eilam, SunSetter’s CEO.

SunSetter has long used energy efficiency as a selling point for its awnings, which can significantly cut down the amount of heat that enters a home ¾ thus reducing air conditioning costs ¾ as well as protect people outdoors from ultraviolet rays and heat.

But now, with the clean energy additions, Sunsetter is going one step further by taking advantage of the sun’s benefits, too.

With 616 solar panels added to its plant’s roof, and high-efficiency lighting, Sunsetter now has 35 percent of its electrical needs taken care of and 50 percent less expenses for lighting.

“We are in business to sell a product that helps homeowners save energy, and we believe that we have to do the same,” Eilam said. “The savings is not huge … it was not the main reason. The main reason was: Everyone has to save energy. Everyone has to do their part.”

Eilam first learned about the clean energy possibilities from the plant’s utility company, Constellation Energy, which sent a flyer to its clients describing incentives available from the state. The Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust, now the Clean Energy Center, had rebates available that eventually paid for 57 percent of the total cost.

Nexamp, a North Andover-based company providing clean energy solutions, did the work for SunSetter.

“We help them capture any and all tax incentives and rebates that might be part of their project,” said Jon Abe, vice president of development for Nexamp. “We’re focused on helping our clients become more competitive in challenging economic times, with the rising energy prices.”

A unique part of Nexamp’s focus is that it uses Massachusetts-based companies to provide its major parts. The Sunsetter project included Evergreen Solar (based in Marlborough), Solectria Renewables (Lawrence) and PanelClaw (North Andover).

“We believe there’s a moral and economic impetus to investing in clean energy,” Abe said. “… We really appreciate SunSetter’s local leadership in clean energy. We hope they are a beacon for other businesses in the area.”

Eilam said he also hoped Sunsetter’s move toward clean energy would encourage others to do the same. Although it will take about five years for Sunsetter to recapture the cost of its investment, it’s expected to have 25 years of free energy after that.

“You’re going to get back money every year, year after year after year,” Eilam said. “That’s enough of an incentive for every business. They shouldn’t just think short-term for the next couple years.”

SunSetter’s new system also allows the company to feed energy back to the grid that can be then by used by others.

“It’s definitely a win-win,” Eilam said. “Because even if you cannot put enough panels on the roof to generate all your energy needs, you don’t lose any time, because those panels will generate energy for someone else.”

“If all the plants in Malden were using solar energy,” he added, “(theoretically) we could power all the houses (in Malden) with solar energy.”

Eilam said that having a company use clean energy also shows customers that a business is responsible and trying to help a larger need.

“Our employees are very proud of what we did,” he said. “Yes, the decision was mine at the end, but the employees were very proud. They’re proud to be part of a company that cares.”

“It will help everyone,” he added. “The whole world.” Link to Article