While residential solar installers battle for market share and YieldCos gobble up utility scale projects, the commercial and industrial (C&I) solar space has been relatively quiet. Broadly defined as behind-the-meter projects between 50kW and 5MW, the middle market remains untapped due to market fragmentation and complexity associated with relatively smaller deal sizes. In fact, the number of middle market solar projects interconnected in Q1, 2014 was down 12% from the same quarter in 2013, according to Greentech Media (GTM) and SEIA’s Solar Market Insight Report. Additionally, Q1, 2014 marked the first quarter that residential solar MW installed exceeded those installed in the C&I niche since 2002.
Massachusetts solar developers breathed a sigh of relief after last week’s announcement.
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:
Sol Systems Tops 360 Teams to Win 200 Mile Relay Race
On September 12-13, nine members of the Sol Systems team ran a 200 mile relay race stretching from Cumberland, MD to Washington, DC. Winding through hills and valleys, day and night, the team steadily made its way to the finish line, beating over 360 teams to take the first place title. With a final time of 25 hours and 35 minutes, the Sol Systems team finished a full hour faster than the second placed finishers.
The Ragnar Relay consists of 36 individual legs (3 per runner) ranging from 2 miles to 11.1 miles in length with varying difficulties in terrain. The logistics of the race involve two vans of six runners alternating every six legs, trading off at major exchange points at which runners can relax, meet other teams, and attempt to sleep.
The race started for the Sol Systems team (named the Fighting Gibsons after the company’s Chief Technical Officer, Mike Gibson) at 12:30 pm on Friday and continued until just after 2 pm on the following day. By the end of the race, most teammates had only slept for one or two hours.
As the final runner raced down the stretch, all 12 team members came together and crossed the finish line in unison. The team drew together in the face of the relay’s challenges, ultimately coming out stronger. See you next year, Ragnar DC.
Yesterday’s announcement from the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) may have taken some Massachusetts solar developers by surprise.
Immediately following the announcement of the allocations for the 2014 and 2015 Managed Growth capacity, commercial and utility scale solar developers across New England began counting down the days to when the 2016 capacity amount would be revealed. Developers had long awaiting the final figures for the DOER’s 2016 allocation, hoping they could fit their 650 kW+ solar projects into the Massachusetts solar program.
The countdown is now over, and the DOER has released their initial analysis and expectation for the Managed Growth Capacity Block for 2016. The final result is… 0 MW.
On June 13, Ohio made history by becoming the first state to “freeze” its Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). The passage of SB310 was a major setback for the renewable industry in Ohio, but who knew what happened in the Buckeye State could affect solar in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and even Kentucky?
Ohio’s legislative change froze not only the RPS, but the solar renewable energy credit (SREC) trading markets in the surrounding states. Because bordering states such as Indiana, West Virginia, Michigan, and Pennsylvania can sell their SRECs into the Ohio solar market, spot market SREC prices in these states have drastically declined, dropping down from $70/SREC to $30/SREC in a matter of weeks.
As Virginia solar energy system owners sell their SRECs into the Pennsylvania SREC market, the Virginia solar market has also taken a hit. This all happened just when the Pennsylvania solar market was on the rebound. Pennsylvania SREC prices were as high as $76/SREC earlier in the year, much higher than the $20/SREC we were seeing in 2012 and 2013.
Our team strongly believes that a managed SREC solution, one in which a third party such as Sol Systems executes trades in the best interest of the SREC owner, provides the customer with the highest sale price. Here’s why the managed approach works so well.
Aggregation is important because larger volume SREC transactions often result in higher prices. For example, it’s very difficult to sell 12 SRECs on any given day. However, many SREC buyers would be very interested in purchasing 1200 SRECs. The higher volume that a managed SREC solution allows improves liquidity, and results in higher pricing. Sol Systems has always passed down this higher pricing to SREC owners.
Massachusetts SREC-I Auction Throws a Curveball to the Markets: Here’s how this will impact SREC-II projects.
Round II of the Massachusetts SREC-I clearinghouse auction failed to clear yesterday, July 30. A third round will be held on Friday, August 1st, 2014. As we described earlier in an explanation of the Massachusetts SREC-I auction, This annual auction, which is based on the volume demanded, allows SREC sellers the opportunity to auction their SRECs at the end of each summer for a fixed price of $300/SREC, minus an auction fee (most customers will net $285)
Implications of the Massachusetts SREC-I Clearinghouse Round II
An Auction failing to clear Round II automatically increases the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) obligation by 142,504 to 1,054,933 SRECs for compliance year (CY) 2015. An increase in demand generally pushes prices higher, which is what Sol Systems’ SREC trading team saw yesterday. Massachusetts SRECs with a 2015 vintage stamp increased $35 per SREC to $320 from $285. Since a partial clearance of the Auction is allowed in Round III, compliance entities and SREC investors are likely to bank some SRECs in expectance of this increase in CY 2015 RPS obligation. All unsold auction SRECs will be returned to the owners (with extended life of three years) in proportion to the clearance volume in Round III and will have to be sold on the spot market.
The Massachusetts solar renewable energy credit (SREC) market is undoubtedly the most complex incentive program among its peers. Among its complexities is the annual clearinghouse auction mechanism, which allows SREC sellers the opportunity to auction their SRECs at the end of each summer for a fixed price of $300/SREC, minus any auction and aggregation fees (most customers will net around $271). Sol Systems can provide you with fixed forward pricing. Having a fixed forward price eliminates the need to enter the auction and deal with reminted SRECs. Right now, our 4-year pricing for SREC-I is $270. We offer 3-year, 4-year, 5-year and 10-year pricing for SREC-I and SREC-II. Sol Systems takes care of customer accounts throughout this process, thus allowing our customers to pursue their core business. For more information, email us today at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The first round of the SREC clearinghouse auction took place today and did not clear; 141,504 SRECs were deposited. Anxious SREC sellers are hopeful all SRECs will be cleared by the end of round two, which is to be held tomorrow, 30th July, 2014. It makes sense for auctions to enter Round II as an increase in the shelf life of SRECs is beneficial for both, compliance entities and SREC owners.
On May 28, 2014, the results for the 2014 SRECDelaware Procurement Program were announced. This is the second year that the newly structured program has been in place; the Delaware Public Service Commission approved the new structure of the program in 2013, which implemented a competitive bid process for all tiers for the first 7 years of the contract and a set price of $50/SREC for the remaining 13 years of the contract. However, with the 2014 program, the set price for the remaining 13 years of the contract has decreased to $35/SREC. The 2012 Pilot Program that preceded the current Procurement Program differed in structure, with administratively set prices at $260/SREC for years 1-10 and $50/SREC for years 11-20 for projects under 250 kW and a competitive bidding process for anything larger. In 2013, the competitive Procurement Program resulted in lower SREC prices for successful bidders, as compared to the administratively set Pilot Program. In 2013, SRECDelaware also held a Spot Market Auction for owners of existing SREC’s generated since July 2009, which additionally produced low SREC prices.
With the signing of Senate Bill 310 (SB 310), Ohio has become the first state to “freeze” its Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). Ohio Governor John Kasich signed the bill into law on June 13th, effectively halting the state’s mandates for efficiency and renewables until 2017. Come 2017, these mandates will pick up where they left off when the freeze occurred, as opposed to the annual increases in renewable energy and efficiency measures that would have occurred with the RPS.
SB310 will significantly harm Ohio’s solar industry by driving SREC prices down in both the Buckeye state as well as the surrounding states such as Kentucky, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Indiana, and Michigan that sell their SRECs into Ohio. The bill faced tremendous opposition from health and environmental coalitions, as well as a group of 70 businesses and organizations, including Honda and Whirlpool, who urged Governor Kasich not to sign the bill.
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.
- SREC II’s regulatory framework and how it differs from SREC I, particularly in regards to the new SREC factor and Clearinghouse auction
- The fate of Massachusetts SREC I subscribers, including those who have not yet been accepted into the program
- Supply and demand dynamics in the MA SREC I & SREC II programs
- Spot market prices and the availability of fixed price contracts, including advisable SREC strategies for both residential and commercial systems
- How to finance commercial projects in Massachusetts, including advisable PPA rates and the availability of SREC strips
The event will be taking place on April 23rd, 2014. Register today.
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:
Below, we have included excerpts from Sol Systems’ January 2014 Project Finance Journal, which is a monthly email newsletter that our project finance team distributes to our network of clients and solar stakeholders. Our newsletter contains solar statistics from current real-life solar projects, trends and observations gained through monthly interviews with our solar project finance team, and it incorporates news from a variety of solar industry resources.
If you would like to receive our Solar Project Finance Journal via email every month, please email email@example.com with a request to be added to our Project Finance Journal distribution list.
On January 3, 2014, the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) announced that they filed revisions to the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) Class I regulation, thus beginning the formal rulemaking process for establishing a framework for the SREC-II program. The official version of the draft regulation will be published in the Massachusetts Register on January 17, 2014, but in the meantime, the DOER has provided an unofficial version on their website.
Timeline for the Formal Rulemaking Process
The formal rulemaking process begins with a public comment period which includes holding a public hearing. Written public comments will be accepted from January 3 through 5:00pm on January 29, 2014 and the public hearing will be held on January 24, 2014 from 1:00 to 3:00 pm in the Gardner Auditorium of the Massachusetts State House in Boston. Following the public comment period, the DOER will submit this proposed final regulation to the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy and will incorporate any changes deemed prudent from the public comments. Within the following 30 days, the Joint Committee will review and submit comments on the regulation back to the DOER. To conclude, the DOER must consider the Joint Committee’s comments for a period of not less than 30 days, and thereafter, the final regulation will be promulgated as soon as possible. Based on the estimated outline in the table below, the SREC-II program should become effective in April 2014.
Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) Commissioner Mark Sylvia recently shared the DOER’s most recent developments regarding its SREC II program with a packed house at the recent Electricity Restructuring Roundtable on Solar in New England and California. The official draft has not been published for the public, but is expected to be filed any day now. Here’s what you need to know.
- SREC-II Policy Objectives: Unchanged
The overall policy objectives remained unchanged under this most recent draft. The DOER’s main goals are still to provide sufficient economic support, control ratepayer costs, and create competitive, robust, and progressive market conditions that will maintain and expand PV installations in Massachusetts to reach Governor Deval Patrick’s 1600 MW goal by 2020. The most significant updates and changes to the original SREC-II draft regulations came instead in the announcement of the key design features, which will drive the structure of the SREC-II Program.
Position: Solar Analyst Intern (position beginning in January 2014) targeted towards undergraduates
Description: The Solar Analyst Intern will assist with registration processes, administrative duties, and research tasks, and will be expected to provide clearly defined deliverables. The position will require attention to detail, excellent record keeping, and efficient allocation of time and resources.
Through this position, the Solar Analyst Intern will gain familiarity with solar legislation, solar finance mechanisms, industry news, and industry vocabulary, as well as new product development in a fast paced, start-up environment. This position provides a fantastic launching pad for a career in renewable energy.
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 November 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to hear from you.
After two successful prior rounds, PSE&G launched their third Solar Loan program and began accepting applications for PV projects on October 31st. The first round of competitive solicitations will close on Tuesday, November 12th. Projects in PSE&G service territory that are eligible for net metering can receive a percentage of project costs upfront as a loan to be paid back with SRECs or cash during the life of the project. The program will accept 97.5MW in both residential and commercial projects. Sol Systems previously wrote about the program here.
Solar Loan Program III will differ from previous procurements in several ways. Unlike previous Solar Loan programs, the floor price per SREC will be determined by a competitive bid-in process. The program will also feature a ten year loan term, down from 15 years in previous rounds. It will not include a call option on SRECs, providing additional security for investors. The available capacity will also be divided into market segments (various types and capacities of residential and commercial projects), meaning increased diversity of project types in the program. The program applicants will now be responsible for administrative costs of the program as well, in the form of per kW fees. Bidders should account for these fees in their floor price.
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.”