Freedom Solar Financial raises $7.5M to launch new commercial solar financing vehicle

Freedom Solar

Texas-based Freedom Solar Financial Services LLC has raised an initial round of $7.5 million in funding to finance commercial solar projects. This financing through Freedom allows companies to finance up to 70 percent of the cost of an entire solar installation and ensures that an investment in solar is cash-flow positive from day one. The company offers a simple one-page application and a rapid one-week underwriting process.

The Freedom Financing program is based on more than a decade of experience working with hundreds of business owners to make solar work for them. Securing financing for commercial solar projects, which can be key to creating an attractive investment profile for onsite solar generation, can be difficult and complicated.

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“Finding a financial services product that works well for businesses is a challenge because the asset class and economic drivers of solar are unique,” says Bret Biggart, CEO of Freedom Solar. “Freedom understands solar and what our clients need. We are stepping in to make capital available for companies who want to go solar in a way that maximizes their return on investment.”

The executives at Freedom Solar Power created this new financial services entity in time to help owner-occupied businesses take full advantage of the Business Energy Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for solar power system installations. 2019 is the last year in which companies can claim a corporate tax credit worth 30 percent of the total cost of their solar power system installations. The tax credit steps down each year after that, to 26 percent in 2020, 22 percent in 2021, and 10 percent in 2022 and future years.

“With the deadline looming for the 30 percent tax credit, we are seeing greater interest from businesses who have been on the fence about solar for a while,” says Kyle Frazier, chief revenue officer at Freedom Solar. “Our waiting list for 2019 installations is already beginning to build, and people are realizing that the time to get started with solar is now.”

Since Freedom Solar was founded in 2007, the company has partnered with hundreds of business owners to design, install, and monitor complete solar solutions that lower their customers’ tax liability, reduce operating costs, and provide a strong return on investment.

— Solar Builder magazine

Duke Energy launches plan to own, operate non-residential solar sites in North Carolina

Duke energy commercial solar

Duke Energy is jumping into the non-residential solar business. The company recently filed to be a certified solar lessor with the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) and plans to build, own and operate on-site solar facilities. DECER is not financially supported by either Duke Energy Carolinas or Duke Energy Progress, Duke Energy’s operating companies in the Carolinas.

“Customers want more solar power for their operations, but the large upfront investment can be an obstacle,” said Rob Caldwell, president, Duke Energy Renewables and Distributed Energy Technology. “Through DECER, we will be competing to provide customers a turnkey solar solution to meet their renewable energy goals, while managing the ongoing operations and maintenance of the facility.”

RELATED: Six solar industry storylines to watch from Solar Power International 2018

Caldwell added that DECER will target businesses, and will mainly use local solar construction and maintenance companies to work on projects. Under DECER’s offering, companies can negotiate for solar facilities up to 1-MW of capacity – roughly 100 times the size of a typical residential home system. The agreement will have a term of up to 20 years. Customers will be able to use 100 percent of the electrical output of the facilities and be eligible for any rebates and net-metering options offered by Duke Energy. DECER will handle all the ongoing maintenance of the facilities.

Before beginning operation in North Carolina, Duke Energy must receive approval from the NCUC. Complete details of the NCUC filing can be found here. Duke Energy can already offer such services in South Carolina.

— Solar Builder magazine

Walmart to install SunPower solar systems at 21 locations in Illinois

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Walmart announced that it has reached an agreement with SunPower to have the commercial energy provider install solar systems at 19 stores and two distribution centers in Illinois. As part of the project, a mix of rooftop and ground-mount solar systems are expected to account for 23 MW, with start of construction targeted for the first half of 2019.

Walmart is financing the solar projects through a power purchase agreement (PPA) arranged by SunPower, allowing Walmart to buy power at competitive prices and hedge against future utility rate increases with no upfront capital costs. Walmart will own the renewable energy credits associated with the system.

“We commend Walmart for its leadership in driving corporate renewable energy adoption in the United States and for partnering with SunPower to deliver high-efficiency, high-quality solar to so many of its stores and facilities,” said Nam Nguyen, SunPower Executive Vice President, Commercial Americas. “As the top U.S. commercial solar provider and with over 30 years of experience, SunPower is well positioned to help Walmart increase its renewable energy investments in a cost-effective manner.”

RELATED: Six solar industry storylines to watch from Solar Power International 2018

In Illinois, smart state policy and rising utility rates make solar a smart investment for commercial customers. These installations will represent a 25 percent increase in Illinois’ current solar capacity and will generate enough electricity to power nearly 30,000 homes.

“Illinois Solar Energy Association is committed to advancing solar locally, enabling companies like Walmart – with stores and employees across our great state – to realize the economic and environmental value of renewable energy,” said Lesley McCain, Executive Director of the Illinois Solar Energy Association. “These projects will create hundreds of jobs for Illinois’ growing solar workforce while reducing pollution across the state.”

This commitment moves Walmart closer to its 2025 goal of supplying its global operations with 50 percent renewable energy. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator, the amount of anticipated annual carbon offset by this initiative will be equal to the amount of carbon sequestered by over 24,000 acres of U.S. forest in one year – the size of Elgin, Ill.

“Solar is a vital component of Walmart’s expanding renewable energy portfolio,” said Mark Vanderhelm, vice president of energy for Walmart Inc. “Walmart plans to tirelessly pursue renewable energy projects that are right for our customers, our business and the environment. These planned projects with SunPower are moving us in the right direction toward our renewable energy goals.”

— Solar Builder magazine

Tupelo Music Hall cutting ribbon on its 100-kW solar array

Revision Energy project

A public ribbon cutting is scheduled on October 16 at Tupelo Music Hall, in New Hampshire — a facility that is believed to be the first solar-powered venue of its kind in New England. The event will recognize Tupelo’s clean energy transition and will include remarks by local leaders.

A 313-panel (100-kW) rooftop solar array recently installed by ReVision Energy at the new, 20,000 square-foot facility will generate 114,000 kWh per year, enough to offset 100% of the music hall’s annual electric load.

“From the time we started construction, one goal of Tupelo Music Hall was to operate the business in a way that minimizes our carbon footprint as much as possible,” said Tupelo Owner Scott Hayward. “The use of biodegradable goods, only installing LED lighting, recycling what we can and purchasing the most energy-efficient appliances possible are a few ways we have done this.”

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From day one, the transition to solar energy is a cash flow-positive arrangement for Tupelo. With financing, Hayward is able to immediately lower his electric costs since solar loan payments will be less than what he has been paying the utility on an annual basis. After a five-year payback period, the array will generate free electricity for decades to come. The array is forecast to save over $750,000 in electric costs over the life of the system.

“ReVision is excited about Tupelo’s leadership of the clean energy transition, as one of the top music venues in New England,” said Dan Weeks, Director of Market Development at ReVision Energy. “Thanks to advances in solar technology, businesses like Tupelo – and anyone with a sunny roof or lawn – no longer have to choose between saving money and saving the environment. We’re thrilled to work with Tupelo as the first music hall we know of in New England to go 100% solar.”

— Solar Builder magazine

EDF Renewables, EnterSolar form strategic partnership for C&I solar services

EDF Renewables

EDF Renewables North America, a renewable energy developer, and EnterSolar, a provider of distributed generation solar solutions, formed a strategic partnership with EDF Renewables acquiring a 50 percent interest in EnterSolar. Together, the companies will offer C&I customers one of the most comprehensive arrays of behind-the-meter service.

The partnership leverages EDF Renewables’ experience in renewable energy and storage, and its proven long-term expertise in distributed solar solutions to corporate C&I customers internationally, along with EnterSolar’s 12-year solid track record in developing behind-the-meter solar photovoltaic projects for a broad range of corporate clients. As part of the agreement, EDF Renewables is providing growth capital as well as additional project financing capabilities to EnterSolar.

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“We are delighted to announce this partnership with EDF Renewables, which, in conjunction with a strategic investment, provides EnterSolar with enhanced growth opportunities and the ability to further advance our goal of becoming the preferred provider of distributed generation solar solutions to the corporate marketplace,” stated Paul Ahern, president, EnterSolar.

“We are impressed with the quality of the EnterSolar team and the striking natural fit between our offerings. EnterSolar has a remarkable customer satisfaction track record with C&I customers, while EDF Renewables Distributed Solutions brings strength and experience specific to ground-mount solar projects up to 30 MWp alongside behind-the-meter battery storage for the C&I sector. This new partnership will benefit from complementary synergies,” said Raphael Declercq, executive vice president, EDF Renewables. “The partnership now provides our customers with a wider choice of comprehensive distributed energy solutions.”

— Solar Builder magazine