The Commercial Solar Opportunity

The Commercial Solar Opportunity

There are there are three market segment for solar in the U.S.: residential, utility and commercial. Based on some rough math, in 2018 we expect to install 5 to 7 million solar panels on homes in the U.S. In areas with high residential electric rates, paybacks are usually in the range of 4-8 years. But the utility solar segment is much larger: about 20 million solar panels will be installed by utilities in 2018. Utilities realize that it is cheaper to generate power with solar compared to coal or nuclear generation. Moreover, the combination of solar and batteries is projected to be even cheaper than natural gas in a few years. (more…)

Todd Lindstrom with Enable Energy

Todd Lindstrom with Enable Energy

Success in the solar industry requires leaders with a diverse skill set. Leaders must really understand the technology’s evolution, be effective with sales and marketing, coordinate what always seem to be chaotic operations, juggle financial issues and manage a growing team. I’m always interested in learning from people who have this diverse background — and have demonstrated success in the solar industry. (more…)

Commercial Solar and Energy Storage Leases – With Stan Fishbein

Commercial Solar and Energy Storage Leases – With Stan Fishbein

Businesses regularly use leases to finance their buildings, vehicles and equipment. And anyone who has rented an apartment or leased a car knows that they can benefit from a nice place to live or set of wheels without a major up-front investment. (more…)

Commercial PACE Financing – With Brandon Deno

Commercial PACE Financing – With Brandon Deno

PACE financing, or Property Assessed Clean Energy, started out about 10 years ago as a financing mechanism for residential solar. Basically, the cost of the solar system is repaid over a 5 to 20-year timeframe as a part of the building’s property taxes. The benefits are that the property serves as security for the loan, there is almost no repayment risk (everyone must pay their property taxes), interest is deductible, customers are almost always cash flow positive in the first year, and the property can be transferred more simply than if there is a standard solar lease or PPA.

These advantages also apply to PACE loans for commercial solar installations – with two extra benefits. First, many commercial PACE loans are structured in such a way that the tax and depreciation credits are front weighted so that commercial property owners are very cash flow positive in the first few years. Second, many commercial leases are triple net — in other words the tenant pays for utilities, taxes and maintenance (in addition to utilities). If there is a commercial PACE solar loan on the property, the tenant gets the benefit of lower electricity costs and automatically pays for the slightly higher tax assessment from the solar PACE loan. Voilà – no cost to the building owner.

My guest on this week’s Energy Show is Brandon Deno, Vice President of Solar at Clean Fund. Clean Fund is the leading provider of PACE loans for commercial buildings. Please Listen Up to The Energy Show on Renewable Energy World as Brandon explains the ways in which solar developers and building owners can take advantage of PACE loans for their commercial properties.

Five Easy Ways to Compare Home Solar Proposals

Home solar systems are pretty simple: put some solar panels on your roof, wire them up, get connected by your utility, and enjoy cheap electricity for 25+ years. But the technology and options can be confusing – especially as solar salespeople strive to point out differences in their products and services. I’ve watched customer’s eyes glaze over as I talk about the differences between poly and mono crystalline cells, string and micro-inverters, degradation rates and warranties. This only makes comparing solar proposals more difficult.

Solar panels are a commodity sold on a $/watt basis. Many of the solar panels get their cells from the same sources in Asia – just as different brands of gasoline are manufactured in the same refineries. As a result, two homes with the same total wattage of solar panels on the roof with the same exposure will have virtually identical annual energy production.

Listen up to this week’s Energy Show on Renewable Energy World as we talk about a simple way to compare solar proposals and quotes on a dollar per watt basis. We also discuss important home solar contract terms, inverter choices, monitoring, and the ways to pick a good installer.

Straight Answers To Your Solar Questions

It’s that time of year again: the weather has warmed up, air conditioning bills are peaking, people are in the midst of their home improvement projects…and it’s prime solar sales season. Homeowners are getting calls, e-mails, radio ads, direct mail and even door-to-door sales pitches.

Most of these pitches are well-intentioned and accurate. Rooftop solar will indeed save you money, while also improving our local and global environment. Solar companies are providing an important service as we transition to this clean energy economy. It’s all a good thing, as long as the solar advice you get is good.

The problem is that solar technology, electric rates and financial savings can be very confusing, and subject to a variety of assumptions. To help sort through some of these facts and fictions, our topic on this week’s Energy Show on Renewable Energy World is: “Straight Answers to your Solar Questions.” Please Listen Up to our perspective on the following solar customer Q&A topics:

  • How many solar panels will fit on my roof?
  • How can you tell if a solar salesperson is exaggerating?
  • Will a big solar company be more likely to be in business in 10 years than a small company?
  • What is a realistic energy escalation rate?
  • What is better, a microinverter, optimizer or string inverter?
  • What solar panels are the best?
  • How much money will I save?
  • I pay $0.20/kwh for electricity, and a solar company is offering me a PPA for $0.17/kwh. Sounds like a no-brainer?
  • I’m confused about these solar financing options. What is best?
  • What maintenance is required?
  • I have an output guarantee. Are my savings guaranteed?
  • Do solar panels increase the value of my house?
  • How long will it take to do the installation?
  • Do I need to get a building permit or utility interconnection?
  • If I move can I take my solar system to my new house?
  • If the roof where the panels are located is partially shaded, will they still work?

To get straight answers to your solar questions, Listen Up to this week’s Energy Show on Renewable Energy World.