Solar Lendscape report shows increased investor interest in community solar

kWh Analytics

kWh Analytics released a free resource profiling 28 tax equity investors for developers looking to raise capital. The Solar Lendscape catalogs the industry’s most active debt and tax equity investors, including details on check size, target market segments, and product type.

The industry’s first Solar Lendscape was released in June 2018 and initially focused exclusively on providers of debt. Following industry interest, kWh Analytics developed Solar Lendscape for Tax Equity to also include an overview of tax equity investors.

Project development is known to be a complex engagement in which the rules and variables regularly change. One of the most important variables for a developer to track is the availability of capital. Leveraging their experience working with investors, kWh Analytics built a simple, free tool to help developers assess the investor landscape and find the right partner for their projects.

Fast facts from the Solar Lendscape for Tax Equity:

  • Most organizations are using partnerships as a preferred structure.
  • Nearly a dozen investors are investing in community solar.
  • There was an influx of new tax equity providers in 2017, following the extension of the investment tax credit in 2016.

Fast facts from the Solar Lendscape:

  • There are now 14 lenders that have either originated or hold more than $1b of solar term debt.
  • ~20% of the lenders are now willing to lend to community solar projects.
  • ~20% of the lenders are now willing to take risk on the merchant tail.

— Solar Builder magazine

New York to fund $40 million in solar + storage projects

New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo is making $40 million in funding available to support solar projects that integrate energy storage, accelerating progress toward New York’s energy storage target of 1,500-megawatts by 2025. These projects will build toward Governor Cuomo’s mandate that 50 percent of the state’s electricity come from renewable sources by 2030 to combat climate change and build a cleaner, more resilient and affordable energy system.

“As we continue our aggressive pursuit of clean, renewable technologies, funding for projects like this will ensure New York remains at the forefront of the global fight against climate change,” Governor Cuomo said. “The strategic pairing of energy storage and solar technologies moves us closer to building a clean energy economy that protects critical natural resources and benefits all New Yorkers.”

These funds will be the first storage incentive funds made available since the release of the New York State Energy Storage Roadmap in June. By offering a new incentive for solar-plus-storage projects for the commercial and industrial sectors, including community solar gardens, the storage component will ensure that renewable energy is shifted to times of highest customer usage, such as afternoon hours on summer days. Solar-plus-storage helps reduce consumer energy bills and improves the value of renewable energy to the grid. In addition, paired solar and storage systems can deliver lower costs to consumers by taking advantage of expiring federal tax credits, combining the permitting and interconnection processes, and utilizing less space by co-locating on the same sites.

— Solar Builder magazine

SEIA updates Solar Tax Manual for first time since 2016

SEIA

Known throughout the industry as the must-have guide for solar tax and finance issues, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) is now releasing Version 9.0, the first comprehensive update of the SEIA Solar Tax Manual since 2016. Among several updates, the new guide incorporates the commence construction guidance issued by the IRS earlier this year and includes the effects of the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” enacted at the end of 2017.

“Given all of the recent changes, the demand for this resource has never been greater,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, SEIA’s president and CEO. “This comprehensive document provides SEIA members a leg up, as it explains and fully outlines the potential tax benefits and deal structures for solar projects.”

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Developed with the help of Keith Martin at Norton Rose Fullbright US LLP, the SEIA Solar Tax Manual covers tax credits for both commercial and residential solar projects, tax credit bonds, loan guarantees, low-interest loans and grants, state tax considerations, and more.

“The SEIA Tax Manual is a valuable SEIA member benefit,” said Lee Peterson, Senior Tax Manager for CohnReznick’s National Renewable Energy Practice. “It is incredibly valuable because it collects in one place the primary federal tax rules and concepts that drive the industry, while being easy for non-tax specialists to read and use.”

The SEIA Solar Tax Manual is a SEIA members-only benefit.

— Solar Builder magazine

Open Energy’s Finance Exchange has already funded $65 million in solar projects

Open Energy financing

A $35 million solar loan matched between a lender and developer by Open Energy, an innovative solar financing solutions provider, was funded its last month. Open Energy paired a solar developer with the most competitive finance terms in the market across its new Finance Exchange, which we profiled here, for the construction and long term ownership of a 20 megawatt (MW) New York solar project.

“Open Energy delivered the most competitive financing terms for us to build and operate our 20 MW project,” said the president of the national solar developer company and project owner. “Their role was instrumental in bringing us the best terms in the market to make the project a reality. We’re looking forward to working with them again on future projects.”

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Open Energy’s Finance Exchange was launched earlier this year, with $65 million of solar loans already matched across the Finance Exchange, and now on target to fund by the end of September. Moving forward, the Finance Exchange will expand to accept all renewable energy projects.

“We’ve seen such a positive market response to the Finance Exchange that we’re expanding the platform to the broader renewable energy market,” said Graham Smith, CEO of Open Energy. “Borrowers with projects in energy efficiency, waste to energy, hydropower, and biogas can now apply for financing through the Open Energy Finance Exchange.”

With more than 70 lenders accessible via the Finance Exchange, Open Energy empowers commercial solar developers, EPCs, and asset owners to easily and efficiently access the capital markets to find competitive financing terms from the best-fit lenders, investors, and partners. The Finance Exchange enables participants to execute on projects, while Open Energy sources the most competitive terms and pricing.

— Solar Builder magazine

Ampion and Lodestar Energy now offering community solar option to Eversource customers

solar option

Ampion and Lodestar Energy are now offering community solar subscriptions to all Eversource customers in Western Massachusetts. Each subscription will be to one of two 2.9 MW solar farms in Southwick. Ampion will manage the subscriptions while Lodestar will own and operate the facilities.

Community solar allows electric users to receive the benefits of solar without upfront investments or panel installations. As the solar farms deliver energy to the electric grid, subscribers receive credits that offset their electric bill. In addition to choosing an environmentally friendly power source, subscribers save money through the program, as each credit is sold at a 10% discount of their offset value.

“Once customers understand community solar, it becomes clear that it’s a win-win” said Chris Mills of Ampion, who organizes subscription campaigns for the program. “Southwick has limited capacity, but we’re hoping to reach as many people as we can for future projects. Everyone deserves the opportunity to choose a cleaner, more affordable power source.”

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“We’re excited to provide clean, local energy to Western Massachusetts. Add in the fact that we can supply that energy at a discount, to anyone who wants it, and we’re thrilled” said Jaime A. Smith, Co-Founder at Lodestar. “We’re transforming the grid’s infrastructure in a way that’s financially beneficial to its participants, all while addressing the need for sustainable power.”

Lodestar will continue to construct new community solar projects across Massachusetts, anticipating over fifty additional megawatts by 2020, for which Ampion will also provide management services. Currently, parties interested in the Southwick projects can enroll directly online at signup.lodestar.ampion.net.

— Solar Builder magazine