How SDC Energy is getting apartment owners to profit from the California Solar Mandate

Baja Solar carport project

Solar carports in Southern California for Baja Carports.

SDC Energy, a leading provider of commercial solar financing, launched its Powering Title 24 Program with partners Baja Construction and Grid Technologies to specifically empower apartment builders and owners under California’s New Build mandate.

California is the first state in the country to require solar energy on all new residential properties under three stories by 2020. But it’s not all compliance — a survey of 2,800 apartment residents — three in five of them under the age of 34 — found that 84% of tenants say that living in an eco-friendly building is important to them, and nearly two-thirds would pay more to live in a green community.

Powering Title 24’s PV carports create energy-efficient properties that command higher rents and longer leases while reducing construction costs. Unique in the solar industry, Powering Title 24 combines solar carports, virtual net-metering software and tax-enabled financing to help apartment builders and owners convert Title 24 mandates into long-term benefits.

“Powering Title 24 turns compliance into profits,” says Charles Schaffer, CEO of SDC Energy. “Solar carports generate tax credits and accelerated depreciation benefits that offset all of their construction costs. Working with our partners, we can build PV-powered carports essentially for free while creating a new revenue stream for multi-tenant property owners.”

How it works

Multifamily properties will see even more changes in 2019. AB 802, which will take effect in June, requires all California multi-family building owners to disclose their properties’ energy usage to reveal their level of Title 24 compliance. Leveraging solar energy will be a critical component in compliance strategies.

Powering Title 24 is a trio of services that leverages parking structures into solar generating carports, combining intelligent software that monitors the electricity produced and integrates billing systems to enable the sale of solar power to tenants. The linchpin of the program is custom financing that provides secure, flexible terms for solar installers and their customers while enabling private investors to cut their tax bills with PV incentives.

“California’s solar mandate shines new light on the value of building green communities,” says Brandon Morford, CEO of Baja Construction. “Because we already build 70% of all multi-family carports in California and lead carport manufacturing in the solar industry, we can quickly supply builders with a very cost-effective solution.”

After installation, Powering Title 24 makes sure that the project’s electricity is distributed efficiently.

“Our energy monitoring system leverages ‘virtual’ net metering to create a passive revenue stream for building owners,” explains Dover Janis, co-founder and CEO of Grid Technologies. “Owners gain from the sale of solar while tenants save 5% to 10% on their utility bills. Plus, adding solar boosts property values up to two and a half times the cost of the installation.”

— Solar Builder magazine

Demand charge management tips for the commercial, industrial segment

Simpliphi commercial solar storage installation

Storage solutions must be customized to align with the specific power or energy demands of a commercial or industrial customer.

It’s no secret that commercial energy users in every industry are seeking to reduce energy costs today and achieve long-term cost predictability for the future as utilities implement increasingly unfavorable rate structures. Energy storage provides a powerful, multifaceted solution to lock in rates and achieve power security.

Savings opportunities

Energy storage can provide a significant ROI when it comes to utility bill savings:

Demand charges: Demand charges are often calculated based on the highest 15-minute average electrical use recorded in one month which are then applied to all 12 months. As a result, demand charges make up a significant percentage of all commercial and industrial utility bills — typically between 30 and 70 percent. In the U.S., 25 percent of commercial customers (roughly five million businesses) pay demand charge rates of more than $15/kWh and these demand charges continue to rise. Energy storage enables commercial and industrial customers to discharge their batteries and use battery-stored energy rather than grid power to avoid peak demand spikes.

Time of use rates: Time of use rates are calculated at a specific time of day when the utility charges a premium rate to reduce high demand on the grid. Energy storage offsets utility rates by reducing grid power usage during peak hours and shifting usage from peak to non-peak hours.

Large-scale battery banks have both sufficient available power and energy storage to cover and “smooth out” consumption demands and protect utility customers from unfavorable rate structures.

How performance factors into the equation

Beyond initial utility savings, the performance profile of both the batteries and all-in-one solutions matters when it comes to maximizing the performance and economic return associated with a commercial energy storage system. As we’ve discussed in earlier posts, pay close attention to warrantied cycles (battery expected life), max charge/discharge or the battery’s available power, as well as usable capacity and efficiency.

Just as PV array size decisions are important for generating the optimal amount of power and ROI for a project, so too must storage solutions be customized to align with the specific power or energy demands of a commercial or industrial customer.

Consider how storage addresses peak demand charges.  These charges are based upon power consumption, so it is important to have a skilled professional build a profile of power demands exceeding the line in which the demand charge is met.

For instance, a professional might determine that the highest 15 minute interval rate that a warehouse uses is 100 kW. The installer can then reduce this rate with the strategic addition of solar and storage to help smooth out the load profile that the utility sees and thus reduce costly demand charges.

There are high voltage energy storage systems available that allow you to customize exactly the voltage, peak power, capacity and system size you need for every building, location and use-case in your portfolio. This approach can provide significant cost savings over out-of-the box solutions, requiring you to buy only the storage you need and allowing you to add on additional storage incrementally down the road.

This post and the entire 12 Days of Storage was contributed by SimpliPhi.

— Solar Builder magazine

Sol-Up USA named Panasonic’s Fastest Growing Installer for 2018


Panasonic ended a great year by holding their inaugural end of the year awards ceremony. Sol-Up USA was nominated by Panasonic and named the Fastest Growing Installer for 2018, installing more kilowatts year over year than any other Panasonic Authorized Solar Installers.

Sol-Up was founded seven years ago in Las Vegas by Frank Rieger. The company distinguishes itself from other companies because it offers more than simple installations. Sol-Up is the only solar power company in the area to have a showroom where potential clients can come and see solar panels and technologies up close to learn about their potential benefits.

Sol-Up firmly believes that their partners must exceed all of the industry standards so that Sol-Up customers receive the best on the market.

— Solar Builder magazine

New Jersey blueberry farm will recoup its solar investment in 3 years

Atlantic Blueberry solar

Atlantic Blueberry in Hammonton, N.J., announced that SolarKal and their partners have completed the farm’s transition to solar energy. SolarKal’s commercial solar installation process guarantees that Atlantic Blueberry will recoup its investment in 3 years, and generate millions of dollars in revenue and savings.

Atlantic Blueberry, one of the county’s largest producers of high-bush blueberries, elevates its 3-generation commitment to sustainability with the new solar system, helping to eliminate energy costs, and decrease their carbon footprint. SolarKal works with commercial developers, property owners and managers nationwide on navigating the transition to solar.

How this farm turned unusable land into revenue-generating asset

Yaniv Kalish, CEO of SolarKal said “We are happy to announce that, with the completion of this project, we can start to deliver clean and cheap power to Atlantic Blueberry. Like many of our clients, the farm had explored solar for years before deciding to use our proprietary platform. I think that every business in NJ should install solar panels now due to current favorable tax credits, local state incentives and to support the clean economy.

Unfortunately, the process of going solar and the explosion of solar vendors prevents many real estate owners and businesses who don’t have the time and resources to go through this process. By taking all the load off Atlantic Blueberry, SolarKal helped them to not only save time, but also feel comfortable that they have experts by their side.

Art Galletta, Partner and son of one of the founders of the company said “It was a natural next step to continue our commitment to sustainability with this solar installation. We chose SolarKal as our solar advisor based on their experience and vast solar professional network. We knew we needed to go solar but didn’t have the time or resources to navigate the transition. We look forward to saving money on our energy bills and doing our part to help the environment.”

— Solar Builder magazine

Repower your 600-volt PV plants with this Yaskawa Solectria, Alencon combo


Yaskawa Solectria Solar and Alencon Systems are combining their areas of expertise to start repowering 600V PV plants. The partnership brings together Alencon’s String Power Optimizer and Transmitter, the SPOT, and Yaskawa Solectria Solar’s XGI 1000 transformerless string inverter.

The integration of the Alencon SPOT and Yaskawa Solectria Solar’s XGI 1000 offers end users a tested and complete solution for repowering 600V PV plants with new high efficiency inverters and optimizers. The updated PV array will be able to remain negatively or positively grounded as originally designed.

Interoperability was confirmed during extensive compatibility testing of the two units at Alencon’s power electronics laboratory located at their Hatboro, PA headquarters. Testing included operating the XGI 1000 inverter in a constant voltage mode, where the SPOT performs string level maximum power point tracking while providing the XGI 1000 a fixed voltage that allows it to run at its maximum efficiency.

Both the SPOT and XGI series inverter are designed, tested and built in the United States and compliant with the Buy American Act (BAA), making this unique solution ideal for customers with mandates to comply with the BAA including military and other government entities.

“The testing conducted between Alencon and Solectria confirms that the XGI 1000 and SPOT platforms perform perfectly together, creating an elegant American-made solution for restoring and improving 600V systems.” said Miles C. Russell, Director of Product Management at Yaskawa Solectria Solar.

— Solar Builder magazine