Kenyon Energy, Key Equipment complete 6-MW solar project in Deerfield, Mass.

kenyon energy

Kenyon Energy, LLC in partnership with The Town of Deerfield, Key Equipment Finance, and Lake Street Development Partners, today announced that a 6-MW solar array in Deerfield, Mass., is due to begin commercial operation in November 2017.

The ground mount array comprises 18,720 high-efficiency solar panels and sits on about 23 acres of privately-owned land. In its first year, the array is projected to produce more than 7,200 MWh of electricity.

The solar array is the first to be installed in South Deerfield and could be groundwork for future solar energy projects. The Deerfield array marks an important step in the city’s sustainability initiatives, and the agreement sets a fixed property tax rate on the development over a span of 20 years, instead of it fluctuating based on a yearly valuation. The Town of Deerfield is expected to net a total of $1.24 million from this tax.

“We have been proud to work with Lake Street Development Partners, along with Key Equipment Finance, and The Town of Deerfield to complete this renewable installation,” said Ray Gonzalez, President of Kenyon Energy. “These efforts are part of the town’s long-term strategy to cut the environmental footprint and deliver long-term value to the businesses and communities where people live and work.”

Kenyon Energy, one of the nation’s leading solar technology and energy services provider, managed all aspects of the project from the point of arranging the engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) services, through the construction process and forward to commercial operation of the project. Key Equipment Finance, one of the nation’s largest bank-held equipment finance companies and an affiliate of KeyCorp, provided financing in the form of a sale leaseback supported by a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). With the closing of financing, Bay4 Energy Services will provide asset management services including operations and maintenance for the life of the system.

16 community solar projects across Massachusetts being financed by Key Equipment Finance

“Key Equipment Finance’s long-term partnership with Kenyon Energy enables them to monetize tax benefits, including investment tax credit and depreciation,” said Doug Beebe, vice president, energy finance, Key Equipment Finance. “Creative financing solutions like this make it possible for Kenyon Energy to own and operate solar projects and sell the power at a discounted rate to cities and towns like Deerfield, to support their sustainability goals.”

— Solar Builder magazine

Vermont’s World Learning School adds 196-kW solar system via Sunwealth financing

Sunwealth

Sunwealth helped finance a solar project for the World Learning School for International Training (SIT) campus in Vermont, which originally wasn’t financially feasible.

“We have always been interested in renewables, but they can be cost prohibitive for organizations like ours,” said Kote Lomidze, Chief Financial Officer at World Learning. “Partnering with Sunwealth has given us access to an energy source that has been out of reach until now.”

Commercial solar development has traditionally been overlooked by banks and other financial institutions in favor of residential and utility-scale projects for two primary reasons: the lack of a credit rating system and the size of the projects.

Sunwealth’s proprietary underwriting process, however, ensures the credit worthiness of its commercial clients. In addition, Sunwealth’s approach minimizes transaction costs and provides investors with an attractive return potential and the opportunity to make a positive impact. The 196.5 kW World Learning project will help the national non-governmental organization achieve $10,000 in energy savings per year.

2017 Solar Builder Project of the Year Winners

“The World Learning project represents what we envisioned when launching Sunwealth,” said Jonathan Abe, Chief Executive Officer at Sunwealth. “It’s incredible to see how World Learning is putting its energy savings to work furthering the organization’s mission.”

Solar Design Associates, Inc. an Ayer, Massachusetts engineering firm, and Dynamic Organics, LLC a renewable energy developer located in Putney, Vermont, designed and constructed the World Learning solar project.

“As a local developer, we understand how every installation affects our community,” said Morgan Casella, Managing Partner at Dynamic Organics. “We’re proud to be part of a project team that helps create a more resilient economy right in our backyard.”

 

— Solar Builder magazine

Braggawatt adds COO to further streamline commercial solar financing platform

Braggawatt

Braggawatt Energy, a financing provider enabling small and medium-sized enterprises’ (SMEs) adoption of cost-saving onsite energy solutions (that we covered in this feature), continues to bolster its ranks with solar industry veterans, adding Nathan (Kii) Miller, P.E. as Chief Operating Officer. With more than 17 years of solar industry experience, Miller will be tasked with streamlining project underwriting and realization processes to scale Braggawatt’s financing provision.

“Kii’s strong industry track-record and commercial expertise, combined with his engineering know-how and innovative approach, will foster operational excellence as our offering scales to meet large market demand,” said Trey Ramsey, Braggawatt CEO and co-founder. “We are excited to have Kii join us in disrupting how distributed energy projects are originated, underwritten, financed and implemented,” added Oleg Popovsky, Braggawatt CCO and co-founder.

Solving C&I Solar: How boutique financing is growing this underserved solar segment

Braggawatt’s free-to-use online platform is enabling solar projects through its loan and PPA financing options. Over the past three months, more than 60 solar installation companies across more than 10 states have joined the platform and have created proposals for more than 100 SME clients, offering to unlock $130 million in energy cost-savings.

To enhance support for Braggawatt’s platform users, new features have recently been added based on user feedback and platform analytics. These features include interactive chatbots, an FAQ section, step-by-step platform guidance and phone support.

As the team and user base grows, Braggawatt will continue to connect solar providers with fast, transparent financing solutions to best serve the SME market.

— Solar Builder magazine

Details on lifetime guarantee for solar system performance now available through Omnidian

solar system performance guarantee

Omnidian, a nationwide provider of comprehensive protection plans for investments in residential solar systems, is launching a third-party performance guarantee for the lifetime of a PV system. The performance guarantee is available for owners of individual home solar systems through Omnidian channel partners, such as lenders and installers. It is also available for financial institutions, such as funds and third-party owners, that manage large portfolios of residential solar assets.

“Residential PV systems are often backed by narrowly tailored warranties that cover defective equipment,” said Mark Liffmann, Omnidian’s CEO and founder. “But at the end of the day, owners of residential solar – whether it is an asset manager overseeing thousands of systems or an individual homeowner trying to save on electric bills – want the assurance that their investment will perform as promised. By shielding the owners of residential solar systems from the performance risk, Omnidian is providing the solution that gives owners true peace of mind.”

The firm’s service offering addresses one of the major pain points in the growth of residential solar. The residential solar market in the U.S. has grown substantially over the last decade. But competition and high customer acquisition costs have resulted in consolidation and exits by many large installation firms. This has often left distressed residential solar assets without active management for monitoring system health and ensuring optimal performance. Further, home owners have not broadly had the option for performance guarantees when they purchase a system with loan proceeds or cash.

“Transferring performance risk will allow solar businesses to free up vital capital for growing their business and give customers the assurance that their investment will perform as promised without having to personally monitor their solar system,” Liffmann added.

SB Buzz Podcast: Discussing rail-less mounting with Ecolibrium Solar

How does it work?

Omnidian’s performance guarantee includes 24/7 continuous monitoring, proactive service alerts and 100-percent covered hardware and software through a nationwide network of field service professionals, as well as 100-percent guarantee of promised energy or plan owners will be reimbursed for energy loss.

Omnidian’s proprietary technology integrates with all major third-party monitoring platforms and quickly identifies underperforming assets requiring field service dispatch. The firm partners with a nationwide network of pre-certified field technicians. Omnidian’s 100-percent performance guarantee transfers solar energy production risk away from the asset owner. This risk transfer secures the solar energy investment, enhancing asset security and liberating capital.

 

Venture capital firms also see the market opportunity and value in the Omnidian team’s industry experience and unique service offering. The company recently closed an oversubscribed $5.1 million series seed round led by Congruent Ventures, an early-stage venture firm that backs companies in the sustainability ecosystem. Other participants include City Light Capital, Blue Bear Capital, Energy Foundry, Ekistic Ventures, and Avista Development, a wholly-owned, non-regulated subsidiary of Avista Corp.

“Performance guarantees for residential solar energy present a major opportunity to create value for asset owners and help drive the next wave of growth in the residential solar market,” said Abe Yokell, co-founder and managing partner of Congruent Ventures. “We see Omnidian as best positioned to seize this opportunity due to the extensive industry experience of the executive team as well as the state-of-the-art technology they’ve developed in a short period of time.”

The team at Omnidian has managed nearly half of the residential solar systems installed in the U.S. This industry background has allowed rapid expansion of their business objective to protect and accelerate capital investments in the residential solar sector. Today, Omnidian supports Fortune 1000 clients and other third-party owners of leased solar portfolios. The firm is currently managing tens of thousands of systems, having doubled its assets under management in September alone.

— Solar Builder magazine

Why sale leasebacks? How this PPA solution gets commercial solar projects financed

solar panels and money

An increasing number of solar developers are realizing they can use sale-leaseback financing to take advantage of tax incentives for solar installations, and in turn, reduce costs, conserve cash, increase profitability and enhance their brands.

Reducing energy costs is a major consideration for many businesses and government entities because they know that lower energy costs translate into improved profitability and cash flow, and investments in sustainability can add significant value to assets.

Developers such as Community Energy and Monolith Solar are using sale leasebacks to finance projects that include a power purchase agreement (PPA), allowing monetization of the tax benefits, inclusive of the investment tax credit and depreciation. In this structure, solar developers own and operate the system and sell the power to a third party.

The features of a smart sale-leaseback project include:

  • Strong credit all around (developers, PPA offtakers, installers)
  • Positive project cash flow
  • Experienced engineering, procurement and construction management teams
  • Tier 1 components
  • Strong site control
  • Solid PPA
  • Strong incentives
  • Quality operations and management plan/partner

Smart sale-leaseback programs allow developers to finance distributed solar projects that otherwise may not be financeable, as this financing structure scales down nicely, following industry trends of lower costs per watt.

Conserve cash, gain flexibility

Solar developers benefit from financing solar equipment acquisitions by preserving cash and credit lines for other uses. Here are some of the other benefits of financing solar capital expenditures:

  • Potential tax benefits. Equipment financing may provide tax advantages by monetizing the Investment Tax Credit, utilizing Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS) and bonus depreciation benefits.
  • Stimulus benefits. Additional savings opportunities may be available through solar renewable energy credits and grants.
  • Flexibility. Whether it’s a tax or non-tax lease, payments can be structured to match budget requirements, with terms aligned with the solar equipment’s useful life.
  • Reduced capital outlay. By bundling solar equipment with other costs, including design, engineering, development and installation, businesses can acquire what they need with no money down and one fixed monthly payment. In most cases, 100 percent financing can be provided.
  • Be known as a green leader. A solar system is not only a wise financial investment but also supports environmental values. Financing allows organizations to demonstrate commitments to promoting clean energy and reducing their carbon footprint.

10 questions to ask

In the acquisition of solar equipment, it’s important to weigh all available options. Here are 10 questions to consider:

Before
1. Do I need construction financing?
2. Does the installer have the experience, financial strength, qualified staff and bonding capacity to complete a successful project?
3. Does the project use Tier 1 components?
4. Is the PPA financeable?
5. Does the energy offtaker meet a finance company’s credit requirements, i.e. investment grade credit rating?
6. Do I have good site control?

During
7. What are the lease terms, including tenor, monthly lease payment and end-of-term options?
8. What are my other financial obligations for the equipment (such as insurance, taxes and maintenance) during the financing period?
9. Can I purchase the system during the lease term?

After
10. Can I return the equipment or renew the lease?

With answers to these questions, solar developers can effectively utilize solar equipment financing to conserve cash and build their balance sheets by leveraging PPA revenues and retaining the entire revenue stream, as opposed to selling off the PPA.

Choosing a Finance Partner

Seek out a financing partner who can accommodate businesses with customized payments to match budgetary requirements. Make sure the financing company has solar lease financing experience, understands solar project needs, takes the time to ask questions and listens to your responses.

Above all, look for a financing company with a track record in renewable energy and a willingness to customize leasing solutions to help solar developers finance their projects.

Doug Beebe and Luis Gutierrez are VPs of energy finance for the eastern and western United States, respectively, for Key Equipment Finance.

— Solar Builder magazine