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Massachusetts Updates 2016 Managed Growth Allocation, Developers Still on Edge

Massachusetts solar developers breathed a sigh of relief after last week’s announcement.

Some developers of 650kW+ solar projects may get their projects built after all.

Some developers of 650kW+ solar projects may get their projects built after all.

After the initial August 26th announcement that the 2016 Managed Growth Capacity Block would be 0MW, the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) opened a public comment period.  As expected, solar stakeholders expressed their concern over the 2016 allocation, citing that the DOER had projected overly ambitious growth in Market Sectors A-C. In response to these comments, DOER adjusted the 2016 Managed Growth Capacity Block allocation from 0MW to 20MW .

What is Managed Growth in Massachusetts?

The Massachusetts SREC-II Program, initiated in April, creates differentiated financial incentives for each market sector (“SREC Factor”) to level the playing field. This program makes smaller solar projects more competitive compared to larger ones by ideally giving financial preference to residential and rooftop projects (a higher SREC Factor close to 1.0) and providing less support for larger projects (ground mount, landfill or brownfield projects less than 650kW.) Previously, this program allocated 26MW and 81MW for the Managed Growth sector in 2014 and 2015 respectively.  As the legislation mandates, the reconsideration and final decision of the 2016 Managed Growth Capacity Block came from the following formula:

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Sol Systems Completes the Massachusetts Solar Market’s First SREC II Transaction

Sol Systems is the first to close a prepaid SREC contract in Massachusetts' nascent SREC II market.

Sol Systems is the first to close a prepaid SREC contract in Massachusetts’ nascent SREC II market.

Sol Systems is pleased to be the first to close a transaction in solar renewable energy credit (SREC) II, the newest iteration of the Massachusetts solar market. Under this agreement, Sol Systems will provide solar project financing via a prepaid SREC contract to EthoSolar, an Ontario-based solar power provider with over 600 systems installed in North America, for a 150 kilowatt (kW) solar energy project.

This landmark deal is the first prepaid SREC contract in the nascent Massachusetts SREC-II market, which will be promulgated on April 25. Sol Systems provided a Sol Upfront contract, issuing pre-payment to EthoSolar’s client for generation of SRECs in 2014 and 2015; this capital was key in pushing the project over the finish line in light of a tight deadline.

“Combining an upfront sale of a percentage of SRECS with other traditional and nontraditional solutions allowed us to negotiate an attractive financing solution from a local bank that has our client in the black from day one on this project. Sol Systems brought creativity and value that was outside the box,” said Ethan DeSota of EthoSolar.

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Massachusetts Finalizes SREC-II Program: Here’s What You Can Expect

The Massachusetts DOER expects the SREC-II Program to become effective late in April.

Massachusetts DOER expects the SREC-II Program to become effective late in April.

On April 11th, the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) announced that they have officially filed the final revisions for the SREC-II program with the Secretary of State’s office.  These final revisions will go into effect on April 25, 2014 once the rules have been promulgated.

To qualify for SREC-I, all systems less than 100 kW must both submit an application and demonstrate that they have been authorized to interconnect by April 25th.  For systems larger than 100 kW,  projects may receive an extension beyond June 30, 2014 only if the project can demonstrate that interconnection depends only on receipt of authorization to interconnect and such receipt is delayed only by the local distribution company or due to remaining steps required by other parties for safe and reliable interconnection. In addition, the DOER announced that they will be using a new online registration platform for all SREC II applications.  This new platform and application process will be made available to the public on May 6th.

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Sol Systems Speaks at Solar Power Finance and Investment Summit in San Diego

Sol Systems’ CEO Yuri Horwitz, CFO George Ashton, and other members of the team traveled to the Solar Power Finance and Investment Summit in San Diego, California this week. As experts in solar project finance, both of Sol Systems’ co-founders spoke at this conference: George spoke on a panel on matching developer desires with their financing needs, and  Yuri spoke on project economic viability and deal structuring, especially as they are related to tax equity investment.  Yuri also spoke on project underwriting.

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To date, Sol Systems has facilitated financing for approximately 85 MW of solar energy projects through its tax equity, debt, take-out financing, and SREC portfolio management services. To meet with Sol Systems at a future conference, please visit our events page.

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Why the New Jersey Solar Market Just Got Hot Again

New Jersey SREC pricing is on the uptick.

New Jersey SREC pricing is on the uptick. Here’s why we think the New Jersey solar market is heating up.

New Jersey has long been a cautionary tale of the boom and bust cycles of solar renewable energy credit (SREC) programs. In 2009, New Jersey’s SREC values were close to $700 per megawatt hour. Then, in fall 2012, prices dipped to the $70 mark, demonstrating the true volatility of SREC markets. However, a recent rebound in SREC prices offers owners several profitable ways to profit from their SRECs.

After a lull period, the New Jersey SREC prices have ticked up once again. No, they are not back at $700 (and likely will never be again). However, we have traded as high as a healthy $170 per SREC in the last month on behalf of our SREC portfolio management clients.

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New Jersey’s PSE&G’s Second Solar Loan III Solicitation is Coming. Here’s What You Need to Know.

The Public Service Electric and Gas Company of New Jersey (PSE&G) will begin accepting applications in less than a month, on February 25, for its Solar Loan program. While no major changes have occurred since the first solicitation late last year, data is now available on pricing from the first round of applications and awards.

The first solicitation of New Jersey’s PSE&G Solar Loan III program began last year and closed the period on November 12th, 2013.  The program provides loans that make up significant portions of project construction costs (see an example here). The loans can be repaid through SRECs, with payment plans set at the closing of the loan. Cash can also be used to pay in case of low production. Once the loan has been paid in full, any SRECs produced thereafter belong to the owner of the system. The following capacities are available per each program segment:

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Sol Systems Welcomes Bridget Callahan

Sol Systems Welcomes Bridget Callahan

Sol Systems Welcomes Bridget Callahan to help with the firm’s SREC operations and analytics.

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.

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Updates to the Massachusetts 400-MW Solar Carve Out Program that You Didn’t Hear at the June Stakeholder Meeting

In the excitement of the recent stakeholder meeting that the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) held on June 7, which focused on the emergency regulation to address the over-subscription of the 400-MW solar carve-out program and the proposed policy for the post-400 MW program, some important updates to the current 400-MW program have not received due attention. As of June 7, 2013, the proposed changes to the 225 CMR 14.00 regulation went into effect, with no changes made to the red line version that the DOER proposed to the House at the end of April. Here, we summarize some of the most pertinent changes relevant to solar developers and investors who operate in the Massachusetts market.

Adjustment to the Rules of the Solar Credit Clearinghouse Auction

The updated regulation now states that “Any entity that owns Solar Carve-Out Renewable Attributes is eligible to make deposits” of SRECs into the annual July auction run by the DOER. Previously, the DOER restricted the type of entity who could deposit SRECs to only system owners or operators; essentially, unless you were the first entity to receive the SREC into your NEPOOL account following generation, you were excluded from the auction. Now, you simply must have possession of an SREC in your NEPOOL account to participate in the auction. This change will open the auction up to a much larger number of participants, and may result in a greater number of SRECs being deposited into the auction. The 2013 auction has been closed to further deposits, and will begin with the first round on Friday, July 26th.

Prior to the revisions to the regulation, market participants generally understood that any SRECs that do not clear in the first, second, or third rounds of the auction and thus re-mint with a 3-year shelf life are not eligible to be placed into future years’ auctions. The DOER has inserted a clause into the regulation that explicitly states this rule, which was not formally included prior to the revision.

10-Year Opt-In Term for the 400 MW Program

The revised regulation removes the control mechanism previously in place for the length of the Opt-In Term. Before this change, the DOER was mandated to reduce or increase the original Opt-In Term set at 40 quarters in 2010, as follows:

  • Each time the number of SRECs deposited into the annual auction reached 10 percent of the current year’s compliance obligation, the Opt-In Term assigned to projects that qualified for the 400-MW carve-out program following the annual announcement at the end of July would be reduced by four quarters
  • Each time the amount of compliance obligation met with ACP payments reached 10 percent of the current year’s compliance obligation, the Opt-In Term assigned to projects that qualified for the 400-MW carve-out program following the annual announcement at the end of July would be increased by four quarters

In addition, the regulation set bands around this mechanism; the Opt-In Term could not be reduced by more than eight quarters in any given year, and for 2010-2016 there was a minimum Opt-In Term of five years.

The revised regulation fixes the Opt-In Term to 40 quarters (10 years), for all projects, regardless of whether they come online during a period of oversupply or under supply in the market. This is good news for commercial project developers and financiers, and for homeowners, as it removes the difficulty of trying to predict when a reduction in the Opt-In Term may occur, the result of which would be decreased revenue and a longer payback timeline on the system.

Increase to the SREC Demand in 2013

The DOER has increased the Total Compliance Obligation for the 2013 compliance year, from 135,495 MWh, or SRECs, to 189,297 MWh/SRECs. The increase is thanks to the removal of the component of the compliance obligation formula that subtracted the MWh volume of compliance met with ACP payments from two years prior. This adjustment exemplifies the DOER’s commitment to supporting SREC prices; however, even with this increase the market will be oversupplied in 2013 due to the substantial acceleration of solar installation in Massachusetts in 2012 and the first quarter of 2013.

Timeline and Queue for Applications to Get Into the Second Solar Carve-Out Program

The regulation has been revised to begin to handle the transition between the first and second solar carve-out programs. The DOER has created a new concept, the Assurance of Qualification, which will in a way act as a soft Statement of Qualification until the rules for applying into the second program are drafted, approved, and implemented. In other words, projects that do not qualify for the first program, assuming they meet the requirements specified in the regulation and in the Assurance of Qualification Guidelines, will be given assurance by the DOER that they will be eligible to produce SRECs in the second program.

In order to encourage complete and accurate applications, the DOER will introduce a new timeline for the expiration of a Statement of Qualification issued to a project. The details have not been finalized, but are expected to be released in the final version of the Assurance of Qualification Guidelines.

A Lot of DOER Tinkering but Progress in the MA Solar Market

Each of these changes will help to provide clarity for the market in the coming years, for both the current program and the post-400 MW program. The proposed policy for the second solar carve-out program, although not finalized, has hopefully provided comfort, if not certainty, to developers and project owners on how to apply and become qualified for the next program, so that they can continue to develop projects with confidence.

About Sol Systems

Sol Systems is a boutique financial services firm that offers investor clients direct access to the renewable energy asset class and provides developers with sophisticated project financing solutions. Founded in 2008, Sol Systems focuses on meeting the most critical needs of the industry, including SREC monetization, capital placement, tax equity, and New Market Tax Credits. To date, the company has arranged financing for thousands of projects and facilitated hundreds of millions in investment on behalf of Fortune 100 companies, private equity, family offices and individuals.

For more information, please visit www.solsystemscompany.com.

Legislation Introduced in 2013 to Increase the Pennsylvania Solar Carve-Out

On February 25, 2013, Representative Greg Vitali introduced House Bill (HB) 100 to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, legislation that would amend the Pennsylvania Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards. HB 100 was later referred to the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, and hearing has not yet been scheduled. If passed, HB 100 would take steps to revive the suffering PA SREC market. Similar legislation (HB 1580 and SB 1350) was introduced to the PA legislature in 2012; however, neither of these bills made significant progress in the General Assembly.

The original Pennsylvania Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Act currently requires Pennsylvania’s electric utilities to obtain eight percent of their power from renewable sources by 2021, and of that eight percent, 0.5 percent of their power must be generated by solar energy systems.

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Future of Massachusetts Solar – After the 400 MW Program Cap

Sol Systems met with solar developers, investors, and policymakers to discuss potential changes to the Massachusetts SREC market.

Sol Systems met with solar developers, investors, and policymakers to discuss potential changes to the Massachusetts SREC market.

Investors, developers, SREC aggregators, and other stakeholders in the Massachusetts solar market gathered at the State House today for meetings relating to the state’s RPS Solar Carve-Out Program. The Department of Energy Resources (DOER) sought public comment for two pivotal changes to the solar policy regime currently underway—the establishment of a post-400 MW solar program, and the ongoing rulemaking to address changes to regulation 225 CMR 14.00.

Policymakers noted the success of the Solar Carve-Out program in “aggressively growing solar installation and businesses in Massachusetts”, pointing to the rapid pace at which the state has neared Governor Deval Patrick’s goal of 250 megawatts of solar capacity by 2017. The latest DOER data from this month shows nearly 215 megawatts of solar capacity qualifying for the Solar Carve-Out Program, 195 megawatts of which is already operational. With this pace of growth, everyone is asking, “What will happen to incentives for solar development once current capacity meets the 400 megawatt cap of the Solar Carve-Out Program?”

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Massachusetts DOER Announces Solar Policy Stakeholder Meetings

On February 22, the DOER announced their intent to actively develop policy to maintain the growth of the solar PV market in Massachusetts, beyond the 400 MW cap of the current RPS Solar Carve-Out.  The DOER released a statement Wednesday, March 13  providing further notice to all stakeholders of two public meetings that will take place this Friday, March 22.

At a morning stakeholder meeting, the DOER will unveil the policy objectives and potential changes under consideration for a post-400 MW solar policy in Massachusetts. The meeting will give market participants a chance to provide comments ahead of any final decision on this key policy. A legislative public hearing will follow in the afternoon, to separately address the on-going rulemaking of the 225 CMR 14.00 regulation of the current Solar Carve-Out Program.

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Community Solar Bill Reintroduced to the DC Council

The DC Council has reintroduced the Community Solar Bill which would allow for anyone to reap the energy benefits associated with owning a solar installation.

The DC Council has reintroduced the Community Solar Bill which would allow for anyone to reap the energy benefits associated with owning a solar installation.

In January, Councilmembers Alexander, Cheh, Bonds, Grosso, Barry and Wells co-introduced the Community Renewables Energy Act of 2013 (B20-0057).

The Community Renewables Energy Act of 2012 (B19-0715), the 2012 version of B20-0057, was originally circulated in early 2012.  A hearing followed in the middle of June 2012, where Sol Systems Chief Business Officer, Sudha Gollapudi, testified in support of the legislation.  The hearing resulted in a working group dedicated to finding an effective way to implement the community solar bill.  The working group was unable to complete its work during last year’s legislative session, and thus the bill was reintroduced in 2013.

The Community Renewables Energy Act of 2013 is almost identical to the 2012 version.  Many DC residents are unable to use solar energy because they are renters, or they own a property that is not ideal for a solar installation.  With these restrictions, a large portion of DC residents do not have the ability to participate in the solar industry.  The legislation would allow for any and all DC residents to purchase a share in a community solar system located anywhere in DC and receive credit for solar electricity from that system to offset their own utility bill in the form of virtual net metering.  This form of virtual net metering would allow for anyone to reap the energy benefits associated with owning a solar installation.

The re-introduction of this bill to the DC Council for the 2013 legislative session illustrates the Council’s commitment to expanding access to solar for all DC residents.  Furthermore, the passage of the Community Solar Act would help the District to achieve its aggressive solar carve-out requirements by installing a great capacity of solar.

Developers or investors interested in commercial scale project finance within the District should contact our project finance team at info@solmarket.com.  In addition to project financing services, Sol Systems currently offers three SREC solutions for photovoltaic and solar thermal systems located in the District: Sol Annuity, Sol Brokerage, and Sol Upfront.  Please email info@solsystemscompany.com for more information.

Sol Systems will continue to track the progress of this bill.  Please check out our blog for further updates.

About Sol Systems

Sol Systems is a boutique financial services firm that offers investor clients direct access  to the renewable energy asset class and provides developers with sophisticated project financing solutions.  Founded in 2008, Sol Systems focuses on meeting the most critical needs of the industry, including SREC monetization, capital placement, tax equity, and New Market Tax Credits.  To date, the company has arranged financing for thousands of projects and facilitated hundreds of millions in investment on behalf of Fortune 100 companies, private equity, family offices and individuals.

PUCO Releases New Generation Start Date Eligibility

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) recently ruled on changing the generation start date for all eligible renewable energy resource generating facilities submitted for approval to the PUCO in 2013.

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) recently ruled on changing the generation start date for all eligible renewable energy resource generating facilities submitted for approval to the PUCO in 2013.

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) recently ruled on changing the generation start date for all eligible renewable energy resource generating facilities submitted for approval to the PUCO in 2013.  For all applications received after December 31, 2012, all facilities submitted to the PUCO for approval will have a generation start date of the date the application was filed with the PUCO.

Credit will not be given for generation that occurred before the date of the facility’s application for certification as an eligible Ohio renewable energy resource generating facility. Facility owner’s will be able to report generation from the date of application for Ohio’s purposes, unless the facility is not yet online, in which case the facility owner can begin reporting from the in-service date.

Previously, solar facilities submitted to the PUCO for approval would receive a generation start date beginning on the date the application for the system was approved by the PUCO (which is 61 days after the date filed), or a facility could receive retroactive credit back to the date the facility began reporting so long as there was supporting documentation from a remote monitoring system.  Solar facilities will no longer be able to submit remote monitoring information or documentation to the PUCO for retroactive credit.

This generation start date change will only affect facilities located in OH and adjacent states. Sol Systems has reviewed these generation start date changes and is making the necessary changes to our registration service to allow for timely registration of solar facilities to the PUCO.  Please continue to follow our blog for any further updates to the registrations process.

About Sol Systems

Sol Systems is a solar finance firm and a leader in financial innovation in the renewable energy industry.  Since its inception in 2008, Sol Systems has partnered with 350 solar installers and developers to bring over 3,000 solar projects from conception to completion by offering innovative financing solutions for residential, commercial, and utility-scale projects.

Sol Systems’ financing programs catalyze investments for a broad set of solar projects by simplifying their origination, diligence, and financing processes.  Developers seeking financing for solar projects can access over $2.5 billion in capital through the Sol Systems investor network.

In addition to providing financing, Sol Systems also offers project due diligence, deal structuring, and asset management services – all designed to reduce overhead and transaction costs and quicken project development timelines.

For more information, please visit www.solsystemscompany.com.

Sol Systems Issues Call for Solar Projects – New Project Finance Platform Now Has $400 Million in Available Funding

Sol Systems Issues Call for Solar Projects – New Project Finance Platform Now Has $400 Million in Available Funding

Washington, DC: September 14, 2011 – Less than two weeks after launch, Sol Systems is proud to announce that its new solar finance platform, SolMarket, has increased from $350 million in available investment dollars to $400 million.  In addition, reception by solar installers and developers across the country has been overwhelmingly positive.  SolMarket’s network now includes over 180 companies and 300 users.

SolMarket is a financing platform that will catalyze investment in solar energy projects nationwide by transforming how solar projects are financed.  SolMarket provides investors and developers with the tools they need to efficiently originate, evaluate, finance, and construct renewable energy projects.  It provides a standardized origination platform, a document library, modeling software, and a standardized document suite.  SolMarket will also offer developers group purchase discounts for solar modules and other equipment.  There are no costs for developers to participate in SolMarket.

“We talk to hundreds of solar developers about prospective commercial and utility-scale projects, and unfortunately, many of these solar projects are never built due to an inability to efficiently locate financing,” said Yuri Horwitz, CEO of Sol Systems.  “We have created SolMarket to help drive efficiencies into the solar market and connect investors and developers effectively.  SolMarket will reduce the cost of financing transactions and enhance the tempo of solar project development.”

SolMarket is currently seeking projects ranging from 50 kW to multi-megawatts in size.  Solar developers are encouraged to submit their projects prior to September 30th, when investors will get their first look at projects.  Projects entered prior to this date increase their visibility and the likelihood of getting included in the investors’ 2011 portfolios.

Sol Systems invites interested solar developers to attend a SolMarket webinar, hosted every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday during the month of September at 2 pm EST.  For more information, please email info@solmarket.com or visit www.solmarket.com.

About Sol Systems

SolMarket is a wholly owned subsidiary of Sol SystemsSol Systems is a Washington D.C. based solar finance firm, and the largest solar renewable energy credit (SREC) aggregator in the nation, with over 2,300 customers and over 20 MW of solar capacity under management.  Through its SREC offerings, it has promoted the development of the solar market by providing long-term financing options for SRECs, facilitating over $100 million in solar development.

Contact:

Ms. Sudha Gollapudi, Director of Strategic Partnerships

info@solmarket.com

888-765-1115 x1

When is 1 MWh of solar electricity equal to 1 SREC?

Many definitions of solar renewable energy credits (“SRECs”) say that an SREC is equivalent to one megawatt-hour (1,000 kilowatt hours) of electricity generated by a solar facility. While this is mostly true, it’s not always the case that 1 MWh of solar = 1 SREC. In order for an SREC to be created (or “awarded”), the system must receive certification from the state where that SREC will ultimately be sold – and the system must be registered with the regional transmission organization, such as PJM GATS or NEPOOL GIS. These organizations are the entities that acknowledge solar electricity production of 1 MWH and award the system owner with 1 SREC.

In other words, if a solar energy system is not registered with at least one state and registered with PJM GATS or NEPOOL GIS, the system may produce solar electricity without producing any SRECs. This is important because if no SREC is created, no SREC can be sold.

To further complicate matters, each state has different rules about retroactive SRECs — or how far back SRECs can be awarded. In select situations, SRECs can be retroactively awarded years into the past, whereas other circumstances only allow SREC creation from the state’s certification date forward.

Most often, systems are registered with the state in which they are located, but in certain circumstances, SRECs from one state may be sold into another state which has an open SREC policy and a higher price for SRECs.  In cases where the SREC will be sold into a different state, the system must be registered in the state where the SREC will be sold.

In order to ensure that a solar energy system is producing SRECs, the system owner must complete various forms with one or more state agencies.  This paperwork can be submitted by system owners themselves, or it may be done through the installer, or an SREC aggregator, such as Sol Systems — the nation’s largest and oldest SREC aggregator.

Once a system is registered and producing SRECs, the SRECs can be sold to entities that are willing to buy them.

Why would anyone buy an SREC?

Some states in the U.S. have created Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) that require energy suppliers and utilities to produce a minimum amount of their energy from renewable energy sources.  These pieces of state legislation essentially create a marketplace for renewable energy at a premium price and thus stimulate the development of renewable energy markets. Some Renewable Portfolio Standards have specific provisions that require a portion of the electricity to come from solar (a “solar carveout”), and these states typically have strong solar energy markets and robust SREC markets.

When faced with an RPS with a solar carve-out, utilities have three options: build solar power facilities and produce the solar energy themselves, purchase Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs) or pay a Solar Alternative Compliance Payment (SACP) – a set price for each Megawatt-hour (MWh) of renewable energy they fail to acquire.

SREC Prices

The price at which SRECs are sold is dependent on 3 market factors: supply, demand, and the level of the alternative compliance payment (ACP). Demand is driven by state RPS requirements and supply is driven by the number and size of individual solar energy systems which are certified to produce SRECs in a given state.  In markets that are undersupplied, the ACP tends to set a ceiling price on the price of SRECs, so a state with a high ACP often leads to high SREC prices – at least until supply catches up to demand. Depending on the intersection of supply, demand, the level of the ACP, as well as the terms of the SREC contract – SREC prices can vary widely.

For more information about SRECs, please visit www.solsystemscompany.com.

NJ Solar Driven by SRECs (Even More than Before)

New Jersey has been the leading SREC market in the U.S for some time, but the phase-out of the REIP program and the introduction of the SREC Registration Program (SRP) mean that New Jersey’s solar market is now truly driven by SRECs — and market growth appears to be quite robust.

Since the start of 2011, the New Jersey Clean Energy Program has:
• been receiving approximately 575 new applications per month
• been approving about 50 MW of SRP & REIP Applications per month
• seen an average of 16 MW of system completions per month.

The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities Board is proposing the re-adoption of some amendments to its Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency rules at N.J.A.C. 14:8 (Chapter 8). These rules lay the groundwork for New Jersey’s SREC program.

Some of the tenants and requirements of the Chapter 8 Readoption Proposal are summarized below for the convenience of our readers.

SREC Lifespan
An SREC associated with energy generated on or after July 1, 2010 shall be used to comply with RPS requirements for any one of the following three energy years:
• The energy year in which the underlying energy was generated
• Either of the two energy years immediately following the energy year in which the underlying energy was generated

An SREC based on energy generated before July 1, 2010 shall be used only to comply with the requirements of this subchapter for the energy year during which the underlying energy was generated, and/or the subsequent
energy year.

Once an SREC has been submitted for compliance, the SREC shall be permanently retired.

SREC Generation
In order to measure SREC generation, the Board or its designee shall accept either of the following measurement methods:

• Periodic readings of a meter that records megawatt-hour production of electrical energy. The readings may be taken or submitted by any person, but shall be verified by the Board or its designee, or
• For a solar electricity system with a capacity of less than 10 kilowatts, annual engineering estimates and/or monitoring protocols

SREC Registration Process
In order to qualify to produce SRECs, systems need to go through the SREC Registration Program (SRP) and be issued a New Jersey State Certification Number.

The SRP process requires:
• The submittal of an initial registration package- generally 10 business days after execution of the contract for purchase or installation (whichever comes first) of the photovoltaic panels to be used in the solar facility.
• Construction of the solar facility to not begin until after Board staff has issued a conditional registration for the facility.
• Construction of the solar facility to be completed and local code approval granted prior to the expiration of the conditional registration.

If the applicable submittal deadline is met, SRECs shall be usable for compliance with this chapter immediately upon the issuance of a New Jersey State Certification Number for the facility. However, if the applicable deadline is not met, any SRECs based on electricity generated by the solar facility shall not be usable for compliance with this chapter until 12 months after the solar facility has received authorization to energize in accordance with the Board’s interconnection rules.

Registration of a solar electric generating facility requires completion of the following process:

1. The registrant shall submit an initial registration package to the Board.

2. If the initial registration package is incomplete or deficient, Board staff shall notify the registrant in writing of the deficiencies.

3. Once the registration package is complete, Board staff shall review the package to determine whether the solar facility meets the SREC eligibility requirements of this subchapter. If the facility does not meet these requirements, Board staff shall notify the registrant. The registrant shall revise the package and resubmit it within one year of this notice. Failure to resubmit within this time will result in cancellation of the registration process, in which case a complete new registration process shall be required for the solar facility to obtain a New Jersey State Certification Number.

4. If the solar facility as described in the initial registration package meets SREC eligibility requirements, Board staff shall issue notice to the registrant of a conditional registration for the facility. The notice of the conditional registration shall:
• State that, if the solar facility is constructed as described in the initial registration package, Board staff will issue a New Jersey State certification Number for the solar facility upon construction completion and inspection; and
• Include an expiration date 12 months after the date of the notice

5. After issuance of the notice of conditional registration, construction of the solar facility as described in the initial registration package may begin. Construction of the solar electric generating facility shall be completed prior to expiration of the conditional registration.

The registrant may request one extension prior to the expiration of the conditional registration, and shall include an updated schedule for completion. Board staff may authorize one extension for the project on a case-by-case basis, based on the likelihood of timely and successful completion of the solar facility. If the conditional registration or extension expires before construction is complete, the registrant shall begin the entire registration process again by submitting an initial registration package and the Board staff shall treat the new registration package as if it were a first-time submittal.

The application will require the following:
• Information identifying and describing the owner, host location, builder/installer and operator of the solar electric generating facility
• Basic information describing the solar facility, including its capacity, manufacturer and expected output
• A technical worksheet detailing the technical specifications of the solar facility
• A construction schedule for completing the solar facility, including significant milestones;
• A signed contract or other binding legal document between the owner and installer of the solar facility
• Basic information regarding the cost of equipment and installation
• A site map of the land upon which the generating facility will be located
• Any other data or information necessary for Board staff to determine whether the solar electric generation will meet the requirements for SRECs.

When construction of the solar electric generating facility is complete, the facility owner (or installer) shall submit a post-construction certification and request an inspection or inspection waiver from the Board staff.

A post-construction certification package would include the following:
• A copy of the conditional registration notice issued by the Board
• A final “as built” technical worksheet, detailing the technical specifications of the completed solar electric generating facility, including any changes from the technical worksheet submitted as part of the initial registration package
• Digital photographs of the site and the completed solar facility
• A shading analysis
• An estimate of the electricity production of the solar facility
• Documentation of compliance with all applicable Federal, State and local law, including eligibility for any tax incentives or other government benefits, where applicable.

The facility owner (or installer) should supply a copy of the initial application to interconnect the facility to the distribution and transmission system, as well as the EDC or PJM approval to interconnect and energize the facility; and a statement that an inspection of the solar facility, or an inspection waiver, has been requested through the Board’s NJCEP website, and the date of the request.

After receiving the inspection request and complete final documentation required, Board staff will conduct an inspection or notify the registrant that no inspection is required (waiver).

If no inspection is required, or if the inspection indicates that the solar electric generating facility has been constructed in accordance with the conditional registration, and/or any Board-authorized changes, Board staff shall assign a New Jersey State Certification Number to the solar facility for use in obtaining SRECs from PJM-EIS GATS.

If, after submittal of an initial registration package, an increase or decrease of more than 10 percent in the solar electric generating facility’s generating capacity is planned, the registrant shall notify Board staff by e-mail

Interconnection Review (for systems under 10 KW)
Once a customer-generator has met the level 1 interconnection, the EDC shall notify the customer-generator in writing that the customer-generator is authorized to energize the customer-generator facility, as follows:
• The EDC shall send the authorization to the e-mail address, and to the U.S. Postal Service mailing address that is listed on the customer generator’s submitted interconnection application form; and
• The EDC shall not condition the authorization to energize on the EDC’s replacement of the customer-generator’s meter.

An applicant shall submit an application Interconnection Application/Agreement Form for level 1 interconnection review.

If a customer-generator facility meets all of the applicable criteria above, the EDC notifies the customer-generator under that the facility will be approved, the EDC shall, within three business days after sending the notice of approval do both of the following:

• Notify the applicant by e-mail or other writing of whether an EDC inspection of the customer-generator facility for compliance with this subchapter is required prior to energizing the facility or that the EDC waives inspection; and

• Return to the applicant a level 1 interconnection agreement, unless: Part 1 of the original application, signed by the appropriate EDC representative.

The EDC does not require an interconnection agreement for customer generator facilities that qualify for level 1 interconnection review; or

The applicant has already submitted such an agreement with its application for interconnection.

An applicant that receives an interconnection agreement shall execute the agreement and return it to the EDC. If the EDC requires an inspection of the customer-generator facility, the EDC shall promptly complete the inspection and the applicant shall not begin operating the facility until completion of the inspection.

Upon receipt of the executed interconnection agreement from the customer generator and satisfactory completion of an inspection, if required, the EDC shall notify the customer-generator in writing that the interconnection is approved, conditioned on approval by the electrical code officials with jurisdiction over the interconnection.

If an EDC does not notify a level 1 applicant in writing or by e-mail whether the interconnection is approved or denied within 20 business days after the receipt of an application, the interconnection shall be deemed approved. The 20 days shall begin on the date that the EDC sends the written or e-mail notice or application receipt required.

A customer-generator shall notify the EDC of the anticipated start date for operation of the customer-generator facility at least five days prior to starting operation, either through the submittal of the interconnection agreement or in a separate notice.

Once an applicant receives Part 1 of the application with the EDC signature, and has installed and interconnected the customer generator facility, the applicant shall obtain approval of the facility by the appropriate construction official.

The customer-generator shall submit documentation of the construction official’s approval to the EDC, along with a copy of Part 2 of the application, signed by the customer-generator.

If inspection of the customer-generator facility was waived, the EDC shall, within five business days after receiving the submittal required under above, notify the customer-generator of authorization to energize the facility. The notice to the customer-generator shall be provided in the format required.

If inspection of the customer-generator facility was not waived, the following process shall apply:

• The customer-generator shall submit the construction official’s approval and signed Part 2, and inform the EDC that the customer-generator facility is ready for EDC inspection
• Within three business days after the customer-generator notifies the EDC that the facility is ready for inspection, the EDC shall offer the customer-generator two or more available four-hour inspection appointments.
• The appointments offered shall be no later than 10 business days after the EDC offers the appointments (that is, within 13 business days after the customer-generator submittal.
• The customer-generator shall notify the EDC which of the offered inspection times the customer-generator prefers, or shall arrange another time by mutual agreement with the EDC.
• Within five business days after successful completion of the EDC inspection, the EDC shall notify the customer-generator that it is authorized to energize the facility.

The official version of the Chapter 8 rules was published in the New Jersey Register on May 2, 2011.

About Sol Systems:
Sol Systems is a solar energy finance and development firm that was built on the principle that solar energy should be an economically viable energy solution. With thousands of customers and hundreds of partners throughout the United States, Sol Systems is the largest and oldest SREC aggregator. We provide homeowners, businesses, solar installers, and developers with sophisticated financing solutions that help make solar energy more affordable. Sol Systems also helps energy suppliers and utilities manage and meet their solar RPS requirements efficiently by providing them with access to diverse portfolios of SRECs. For more information, please visit www.solsystemscompany.com.

Sol Systems to speak at PV America Conference on 4/5/11

Sol Systems, a solar finance company and the largest and oldest SREC aggregator in the U.S. will present at the PV America Conference in Philadelphia, PA on Tuesday, April 5th, 2011 at 10:30 AM.

Yuri Horwitz, CEO of Sol Systems, will be speaking with George Ashton, CFO, and Natacha Kiler, Director of Sales & Marketing. The presentation “Financing your solar project with SRECs” will address SREC market fundamentals, various types of SREC transactions, and the benefits of each type of transaction. Specifically, the speakers will address spot market transactions, multi-year aggregator contracts, contracts with compliance entities, upfront SREC payments, and the bankability of SREC contracts.

There will be a question and answer forum after the presentation. The Sol Systems management team will also be available to meet with existing and prospective partners on Monday, April 4th in advance of the presentation. For more information on the PV America conference, please visit www.pvamericaexpo.com. For more information on Sol Systems, please visit www.solsystemscompany.com.

3 Things You Don’t Know About New Jersey Solar RECs

Lots of people know that New Jersey is the 2nd largest solar market in the U.S. and that the market’s strength is largely credited to a robust solar renewable energy credit (“SREC“) market (SRECs traded on the spot market at approximately $650/SREC in early 2011), but there are three things that most people don’t know about the New Jersey SREC market…

1. When does SREC creation begin?
2. What are New Jersey’s solar meter requirements?
3. When will NJ SREC prices fall?

When does SREC creation begin?
SREC creation does not begin as soon as the system is installed or when the system is capable of producing solar electricity. Rather, SRECs are awarded after New Jersey has awarded the system a certification number and the utility has signed off on the interconnection agreement. Thereafter, one SREC is awarded for every megawatt hour of solar energy that is generated.

The SRECs can be sold after the system has been listed on PJM’s Generation Attributes Tracking System (GATS). PJM GATS is responsible for tracking SREC production for systems located in New Jersey and throughout the PJM region (so that SRECs aren’t double-counted).

When it comes to selling SRECs and collecting money for SRECs, system owners have a variety of options. They can sell on the spot market through an aggregator or broker, they can sell through a fixed price contract with a utility or aggregator, or they can pre-sell their SRECs through an upfront agreement. In all of these arrangements, there will be a slight delay in when the system owner actually receives a payment for their SRECs. One reason for the delay is that GATs does not award a credit for an SREC until one month after the SREC is generated.

What are New Jersey’s solar meter requirements?
The most recent rules from the New Jersey Clean Energy Program require systems to have an ANSI certified solar meter with a 5% accuracy rating for systems 10 KW or less and a 1% accuracy rating for systems larger than 10 KW. (Systems that have received REIP funds and that are 10 KW or smaller in size do not need to meet this requirement.)

A solar meter (often called a “utility-grade meter”) is different than the utility meter, the solar meter is installed with the solar energy system and it is ultimately what measures SREC production. To get credit for each SREC that is generated, system owners who have systems larger than 10 KW must provide a monthly meter reading. This reading can be taken manually, or through a remote monitoring system.

When will SREC prices fall?
Unlike some other SREC markets, New Jersey has historically enjoyed high and stable SREC prices. In fact, SREC spot prices actually rose from September 2008 to March 2009, which led some people to regard SRECs as an appreciating asset. The history of high and stable prices has led many system owners and solar developers to believe that spot market SREC prices are guaranteed to remain stable in New Jersey, but unfortunately, this is not true.

To understand why SREC prices will fall eventually, one must understand why NJ SREC prices are currently high. In today’s world, New Jersey energy suppliers have the choice to:
a. Develop their own solar energy facilities
b. Purchase SRECs from solar energy system owners via the spot market or through long-term fixed price contracts
c. Pay an “Alternative Compliance Penalty” (ACP)

Thus far, most energy suppliers have elected to (b) purchase SRECs from solar energy system owners through the spot market and long term contracts. They have done so because they do not currently have enough of their own solar capacity to meet their obligations and they would rather purchase SRECs (at an amount slightly less than the ACP) than they would pay a penalty fee for non-compliance. However, energy suppliers have plans to develop their own plants, and they know that the ACP declines slightly every year (by approximately $15 every year) which means that, no matter what happens, they will be paying less for SRECs in the future.

In addition, the supply of SRECs in New Jersey is increasing as more solar farms, residential and commercial solar energy systems are built (“SREC supply”). Luckily, New Jersey’s RPS legislation calls for an increasing number of SRECs to be bought and/or created by energy suppliers (“SREC demand”). In fact the SREC demand will increase in June 2011, but the supply of SRECs is edging closer and closer to SREC demand.

As of March 2011, there was an SREC undersupply of approximately 10,000 SRECs (equivalent to what 8 MW generates annually). This gap is smaller than it has ever been – but the gap is what helps keep New Jersey’s solar REC prices high. Moreover, new projects are coming online every day (11 MW were installed in February 2011), and there is a pipeline of small residential projects and more than 200 megawatts of large-scale projects that have already been announced. (Here at Sol Systems, it seems we talk to at least one developer each day who is planning a 1+ MW project in New Jersey.)

If just a portion of this pipeline comes to fruition, there may be an oversupply of SRECs which will flood the SREC market and cause SREC spot market prices to fall. On the other hand, history has shown that multi-megawatt solar projects are often delayed or never come to pass – so it’s hard to know exactly when supply will catch up with demand. If an oversupply occurs, SREC spot market prices will begin to fall, and system owners who do not have a fixed-price, multi-year contract like Sol Annuity with an SREC aggregator or an energy supplier could see decreases in their SREC income and their solar energy system ROI.

Alas, even the SREC experts can’t tell you if or when spot market SREC prices will fall in New Jersey. The truth is that SRECs are commodities and system owners need to evaluate their own tolerance for risk when determining their strategy for selling them.

About Sol Systems
Sol Systems is a solar energy finance and development firm that was built on the principle that solar energy should be an economically viable energy solution. With thousands of customers and hundreds of partners throughout the United States, Sol Systems is the largest and oldest SREC aggregator. We provide homeowners, businesses, solar installers, and developers with sophisticated financing solutions that help make solar energy more affordable. Sol Systems also helps energy suppliers and utilities manage and meet their solar RPS requirements efficiently by providing them with access to diverse portfolios of SRECs. For more information, please visit www.solsystemscompany.com.

Why Installers Need to be Careful about the Future Value of SRECs

Solar Renewable Energy Credits, or SRECs, are a key part of financing solar PV systems, typically covering 20 to 40% of installation costs. Therefore, it is critical that solar installers, homeowners, and businesses be prudent when projecting future values of SRECs.

An SREC is a tradable credit that represents the clean energy benefits of electricity generated from a solar electric system. Each time the electric system generates 1000 kWh, a SREC is issued that can be sold or traded separately from the power. SRECs are financially valuable because many states have Renewable Portfolio Standards (an RPS) with specific solar carve-outs that require energy suppliers to incorporate a certain percentage of solar generated electricity into their portfolio. Most energy suppliers do not have enough solar capacity to satisfy the RPS requirements with their own power and subsequently must purchase SRECs to meet the state requirement. This allows owners of solar systems to trade their SRECs as commodities and receive payments for them.

SRECs have functioned as an important tool for making solar systems more affordable, and therefore SRECs are typically a significant part of the sales pitch that installers use when explaining the economic benefits of going solar. Furthermore, as state grant and rebate programs diminish, SRECs represent a bigger piece of the way to finance solar. For example, in Ohio and D.C., state funds for solar rebate programs are currently depleted, and homeowners must now rely solely on the federal tax investment credit, SREC payments, and energy bill savings to offset the cost of their system.

In many states, the RPS requirements (that make SRECs valuable) increase annually until 2025. This leads some people to assume that SREC values will also increase annually as energy suppliers will need to purchase more SRECs to meet the solar carve our requirement. However, this is not necessarily the case. The amount of solar capacity is increasing along with RPS requirements, which means that in most states, the SREC values are actually coming down. For this reason, installers need to be honest and careful when describing the future value of SRECs, so that customers do not have false expectations about the ROI of their solar energy system.

In addition to the RPS requirement, the two key factors in determining SREC values are the Solar Alternative Compliance Penalty (SACP) and SREC supply.

The SACP is a fee that a regulated entity must surrender in the event they do not procure a sufficient amount of solar electricity. This fee acts as a price cap because a rational energy supplier would not be willing to purchase SRECs for greater than this value. The SACP is defined on a state-by-state basis, and virtually every state has a declining SACP schedule. For example, in Ohio the SACP declines by $50.00 every two years. The SACP alone will not determine the value of an SREC, but a declining SACP schedule will push the maximum value of SRECs down over time.

The supply of SRECs in the market is another essential factor to consider when predicting future values. Naturally, if there is a surplus of SRECs, then SREC prices will come down. This dynamic has already happened in states such as Pennsylvania and D.C., and solar system owners that locked into a long-term fixed contract are receiving higher values than those trying to trade on the spot market.

Since there is a lot of uncertainty about the future of SREC values, installers should make it clear that SRECs are a commodity and that their pricing can be quite volatile. They should also help their customers make an informed choice about how to sell their SRECs that accommodates their tolerance for SREC market risk. Installers will find that customers who have a good understanding of the SREC market volatility may be willing to accept a lot of risk and enter shorter contracts because they are bullish on the future of SREC markets. However, others may be risk adverse, and would prefer to lock in a fixed price for their SRECs for 3, 5, or even 10 year periods.

As long as installers adopt a cautious approach when discussing SRECs with clients, customers will sort themselves along the lines of risk preference.

The Distributed Generation Amendment Act of 2011: Critical for DC’s Solar Community

District of Columbia Council Member, Mary Cheh, recently introduced one of the more important pieces of legislation the District’s solar community has seen in some time: the Distributed Generation Amendment Act of 2011.  This bill sets a framework and goals for the District that will ensure the development of a robust solar community by creating jobs, providing a price hedge against rising energy costs, strengthening the local transmission grid, and producing significant localized environmental benefits.

The bill accomplishes these goals in two ways.

1.      It increases the solar renewable portfolio standard (RPS) requirements for the District so that these requirements look more like the policies of surrounding states: Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey.  This sets up the long-term foundation for the solar community, and positions the District as one of the leading cities to attract and retain investment in solar.

2.      It ensures that only solar systems actually located on the District’s distribution grid qualify towards DC’s RPS, or solar energy goals. This has the added effect of stimulating local economic development while ensuring DC reaps the many benefits of distributed solar energy.

What is a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS)?

A renewable portfolio standard is a state-legislated policy (in this case, the District’s policy) that requires energy suppliers to provide a portion of their electricity from renewable energy in a state.  This means that for every unit of electricity provided to the district, a certain percentage must come from wind, solar, biomass, etc.

The District’s RPS has a specific requirement for solar, which means that for every unit of electricity sold, a portion (.04% in 2011) must come specifically from solar.  Energy suppliers can meet this requirement by:

(1)   Supplying solar electricity from solar systems they build, or

(2)   Paying a solar energy system owner (like a homeowner) to supply it for them.  This is accomplished by purchasing the solar renewable energy credits (SRECs), something akin to carbon credits, associated with the solar system. SRECs are key to making solar affordable and they are fundamental for making solar systems economical for homeowners and businesses.

RPS legislation like the District’s is now very common. Altogether, 36 states have a RPS or similar legislation and 16 states have a RPS with a solar carve-out similar to that in DC.

The Distributed Generation Amendment Act of 2011 makes some critical changes to the RPS that will ensure its effectiveness in the future.

Why is solar beneficial to the District of Columbia?

The District of Columbia currently imports almost 100% of all of its energy supply. Solar generation, and more specifically, distributed solar generation provides significant social, environmental, and economic benefits.  Some benefits of local solar generation include:

  • Increasing the stability and reliability of the distribution grid
  • Reducing pollutants such as NOx and SOx
  • Diversifying the District’s fuel sources
  • Decreasing the price vulnerability District rate-payers incur by relying solely upon fossil fuel sources, which have significant variable costs
  • Reducing the heat-islanding affects found in DC
  • Reducing the demand for energy during the middle of the day, and specifically during the summer.  This aligns with peak demand, and disproportionately offsets highly polluting “peaker” units
  • Creating jobs in the District of Columbia

The Distributed Generation Amendment Act of 2011 bill forges the foundation necessary for sustainable industry growth for years to come, while creating many more local green collar jobs (over 600 have been created so far) and a significant revenue stream for the city through increased tax revenues.

What are the benefits of the legislation for a homeowner?

A residential system owner can save a substantial amount of money on their utility bills by installing a solar energy system, typically between 30-50% (or $400-800 annually), depending on the size of their system. Homeowners can also sell the green attributes associated with their energy production in the form of solar renewable energy credits (SRECs). The average homeowner can earn between $900-1800 annually by selling SRECs. Energy suppliers buy these SRECs to meet their RPS goals.  This is why an effective renewable portfolio standard (RPS) is so critical for solar financing.

The Distributed Generation Act of 2011 provides homeowners and businesses with a significant economic incentive to go solar.  The legislation creates a long-term and sustainable market for solar renewable energy credits (SRECs) which solar system owners can sell to energy suppliers.  The legislation also ensures that the market for SRECs will remain stable and strong into the future, which will spur solar development and investment in the District.

For the District’s environmental community, this bill moves us towards a more sustainable future, while also creating jobs and helping local industry.  It is well crafted, with significant support from the solar industry, and it is a piece of legislation worthy of community support.

If you want to help the District lay the foundation for a sustainable solar community and spur solar development in the city, we urge you to contact your DC council member .