Solar Power International is generally a good time, but this year’s conference in Chicago seemed better than some of the conferences in recent memory. After reflecting on the week, and why this year felt so much better than some other years, here are Sol Systems’ top 5 SPI conference best practices.
1. Set up meetings and locations in advance. SPI has gotten way too big to have impromptu meetings. If you want to meet with someone specific, put the meeting on the calendar (with the right time zone and everyone’s cell phone number), and have an idea of where you will meet more than 5 minutes before the meeting. No matter where the conference is located, you can generally meet: next to the registration area, at lunch tables in the expo hall, established event networking centers, at comfortable chairs outside the expo, “the” coffee shop, or in the lobby of the conference hotel.
Sol Systems Closes 1.2 MW Transaction for Maryland Nonprofit, Leveraging Solar Financing & SREC Expertise
Sol Systems has successfully financed a 1.2 MW solar project in partnership with its investor client, Washington Gas Energy Systems, a subsidiary of WGL Holdings (NYSE: WGL), which will own and operate the system. Located at Presbyterian Senior Living Services, a non-profit located in Glen Arm, Maryland, the system will provide electricity under a long-term Power Purchase agreement. Financing for the construction of the project was handled between Sol Systems and Building Energy. Washington Gas Energy Systems will own and operate the system.
To fast-track the financing for the commercial-scale project, Sol Systems engaged its network of institutional investors, structured the transaction, and secured a multi-year solar renewable energy credit (SREC) contract, critical to financing the deal. Maryland SREC compliance buyers do not typically execute SREC contracts prior to a project’s operation date. However, Sol Systems was able to leverage its reputation as the oldest and largest SREC aggregator in the nation to secure a four-year fixed price contract.
“Early before entering into the U.S. market, we recognized the value of having a solid and reliable financing partner to help us navigate the complexities of U.S. solar market. An experienced partner like Sol Systems has provided us with the support we needed to finance our first deal in the United States,” said Andrea Braccialarghe, Managing Director America at Building Energy.
Since 2008, Sol Systems has facilitated financing for 69 MW of solar projects throughout the country, 8 MW of which are located in Maryland. In addition to commercial project financing and SREC aggregation, Sol Systems is tackling tax equity, one of the solar industry’s biggest financing limitations.
“Sol Systems is proud to have helped Building Energy succeed with their first U.S. solar project,” said George Ashton, CFO of Sol Systems. “This effort is an example of how our commercial financing solutions and SREC services can work in tandem to increase deal velocity, accelerate the tempo of project development, and bring solar to non-profits like Presbyterian Senior Living Services.”
Sol Systems is continuing to expand to accommodate its rapid business growth. This week, Sol Systems is proud to announce the arrival of our new SREC Operations Analyst, Bridget. Welcome to the team, Bridget.
Bridget Callahan joins Sol Systems after graduating from the University of Michigan. Prior to joining Sol Systems, Ms. Callahan worked with the State of Michigan, as well as with several environmental non-profit organizations. As SREC Operations Analyst, Ms. Callahan answers inquiries for Sol Systems’ 4,000 person customer network, manages customer meter readings and production monitoring, conducts policy research and analysis, and interacts with the various public utilities commissions for SREC registrations. She holds a Bachelor in Arts in Public Policy from the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, with a concentration in environmental policy.
At Sol Systems, our biggest asset is our team, and we will continue to hire sharp, passionate team members. We are currently hiring for a Controller. To learn more about careers with Sol Systems, please visit our careers page.
Every month, Sol Systems distributes a newsletter, the Sol Systems Project Finance Journal, to our community of solar developers and investors. The journal features solar finance statistics, trends, industry news, and SREC market information. We gather this information from our relationships and experience aggregating SRECs and financing commercial and utility scale solar projects.
We have included excerpts from our October Project Finance Journal below. If you have any questions about this information, wish to receive our monthly newsletter via email, or have a solar project in need of financing, please contact our team at email@example.com. We would love to hear from you.
The Long Island Power Authority announced that the Clean Solar Initiative would start its second round of applications on October 7th. This program seeks to bring an additional 100 megawatts (MW) of solar energy to the island, and it is expected to have the same success as CSI-I. Projects to enter this round should be 100kW to 2MW in capacity. Similarly to Rhode Island’s program, the rate will be set through a bidding process. The final price per kWh will be fixed for 20 years. CSI will be accepting applications until January 31st, 2014.
On October 28th National Grid starts its third open enrollment period and will be accepting applications to enter into standard contracts for the supply of energy and RECs in Rhode Island. For this year, the ceiling price (the maximum bid-in price for projects) for 50-100 kW systems will be $0.2995/kWh, $0.2880/kWh for 101-250 kW systems, and $0.2840/kWh for 251-500 kW systems. This is the first round where all applicants will have to include competitive bids with their applications. National Grid will be accepting applications until November 8th.
Sol Systems Finances 227 kW Washington D.C. Solar Project at KIPP School through Partnership with Washington Gas Energy Systems
Sol Systems is proud to announce that it has facilitated financing for a 227 kW solar energy system at the KIPP Charter School, a non-profit in the Anacostia neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Volt Energy developed the project and Sol Systems structured the transaction and financed the project on behalf of its investment advisory services client, Washington Gas Energy Systems.
Sol Systems, Volt, and Washington Gas Energy Systems are headquartered in the Washington, D.C. area, which has one of the most attractive solar markets in the country thanks to strong solar legislation and a robust solar renewable energy credit (SREC) market. To finance the KIPP system, Sol Systems provided an SREC contract for the project and then packaged it into a portfolio of other mid-sized commercial solar projects in Maryland, Hawaii, and California for its investor client, Washington Gas Energy Systems.
“We’ve worked with Sol Systems on SRECs over the years. They have a great reputation, so it was natural to work with them again for this opportunity,” said Gilbert Campbell, Volt Energy’s co-owner and Director of Business Development. “They swiftly conducted due diligence and secured a financing partner to meet our timeline.”
At Sol Systems, we realize that our work is a reflection of who we are as individuals, and our success is a direct result of all the different personalities, passions, and talents that your employees bring to the table. Our team has expanded significantly in the last few years, and we are proud to employ some of the brightest talent in the renewable energy industry. On this employee highlight we have Andrew Gilligan, Senior Associate at Sol Systems:
What is your current position at Sol Systems?
I am a Senior Associate and help to lead our Investor Advisory Group. As part of this team, I assist renewable energy investors across the United States to successfully deploy capital into solar projects.
How has Sol Systems changed since you first started at the firm?
Since I started with Sol Systems in early 2011, the firm has undergone a lot of changes. Back then, we were a small start-up company only offering SREC solutions. Today, we have evolved to become a financial services firm that can help with any part of the capital stock for projects in all relevant US solar markets.
Sol Systems is continuing to expand to accommodate its rapid business growth. This week, Sol Systems is proud to announce the arrival of our new SREC Portfolio Manager, Jason Cimpl. Welcome to the team, Jason.
Jason Cimpl joins Sol Systems with over eight years of finance experience. Most recently, he served as lead analyst for Wyatt Investment Research, where he provided clients with equity research, portfolio analysis, and trading strategy. Additionally, he spent several years in an accounting and financial advisor capacity. At Sol Systems, Mr. Cimpl manages Sol Systems’ SREC portfolio of 4,000 solar assets, creates and analyzes the company’s SREC research models, forecasts SREC supply and demand, and calculates the SREC portfolio’s risk position and strategy. He also leads Sol Systems’ SREC services group, which manages SREC portfolios for installers, developers, and investors who own their own SREC-producing solar assets, but may not have the expertise or resources to manage them on a daily basis. Mr. Cimpl graduated from the School of Business at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2005 with a degree in Finance, Investment and Banking.
At Sol Systems, our biggest asset is our team, and we will continue to hire sharp, passionate team members. We are currently hiring for a controller and an SREC operations analyst. Learn more about careers with Sol Systems here.
The City of Palo Alto Utilities (CPAU) has established various programs in the last few years to encourage solar development in the city. Despite space constraints that limit most projects to roof mounts and carports, the administration promotes two distinct initiatives designed to meet the statewide Renewable Portfolio Standard of 33% by 2015:
- Palo Alto CLEAN, a feed-in tariff program
- PV Partners Program, a rebate program that supports net energy metered (NEM) systems
On March 2012, CPAU launched the Clean Local Energy Accessible Now (CLEAN) program, in hopes to expand the production of cost-effective, clean local energy. This was an important step towards greater energy self-reliance, and for the city’s goal of supplying 33% of its electricity with renewable energy by 2015. The feed-in tariff pilot program was initially capped at 4 megawatts and it was targeted to medium-sized commercial rooftops with a minimum size of 100 kWs per installation. After opening the program for applications in April 2012, no applications were received at the initial rate of $0.14/kWh.
Washington, D.C. Unanimously Passes Community Solar Legislation, Becomes 10th State to Establish Virtual Net Metering
The D.C. Council unanimously voted today, October 1st, to pass the Community Renewables Energy Act of 2013 (B20-0057). With this favorable vote, D.C. becomes the tenth state in the nation to enact community solar legislation. Other states of note that have passed similar legislation include Colorado, Massachusetts, Vermont, California, and, most recently, Connecticut. Through this innovative structure renters, homeowners and businesses with shaded roofs, and low-income utility customers who are unable to install a solar energy system on their roof – either for financial reasons, or because their property is unfit for installation – will be able to access the benefits of solar energy through virtual net metering.
Virtual net-metering allows for any utility rate payer with a meter located in D.C. to purchase a subscription or percentage interest in a solar installation qualified as a Community Renewable Energy Facility. A Community Renewable Energy Facility must have at least two subscribers and cannot be larger than 5 MW. Once a subscription has been purchased, the electricity produced by the subscribers’ portion of the solar energy system will be credited to their monthly electric bill at a previously agreed upon rate to offset their electricity demand for that given month. Ergo, retail customers will save on their monthly electric bills by enlisting in the community solar program.
The Community Renewables Energy Act will continue the momentum generated for the D.C. solar market following the successful passage of its aggressive renewable portfolio standard (RPS) in 2011. This progressive solar legislation reinforces D.C.’s position as one of the strongest solar markets in the country, making the nation’s capital a showcase for solar energy.