Open Energy closes $1.6 million loan to fund offsite solar development in New York

Open Energy financingOpen Energy, a provider of debt financing solutions for commercial solar projects, has announced the closing of a loan totaling $1.6 million to an affiliate of EnterSolar, a provider of solar photovoltaic solutions to the commercial marketplace. The loan provides project financing for an offsite, ground mount solar installation that will offset the power usage of 17 Stewart’s Shops convenience stores throughout upstate New York.

The project benefits from remote net metering, enabled by New York State’s Public Service Commission, will allow the electricity generated by the project to be sent to the grid in exchange for credits that will offset the electric bills of the Stewart’s Shops locations. The solar power that will be produced is estimated to be the equivalent of eliminating 1,654 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually.

RELATED: Beyond the rooftop: How offsite PPAs change the game for solar professionals 

“New York is a particularly exciting market for us,” said Graham Smith, CEO of Open Energy. “The Northeast is poised for a boom in commercial solar as the market conditions – between state incentives, existing high electricity prices and available rooftop spaces – are just right. This project with EnterSolar is just one example of the high-quality projects we can complete right in our backyard.”

“In a sector in which it has been notoriously difficult to obtain financing, Open Energy steps in and provides much-needed debt solutions with unparalleled customer service,” said Peyton Boswell, managing director at EnterSolar. “Increasing access to capital not only allows all entities to finance this project, but also frees up capital to pursue other initiatives, and enable overall renewable energy growth.”

— Solar Builder magazine

Sunrun secures $25 million loan from NY Green Bank

NY Green Bank just closed a $25 million loan for Sunrun Inc., which will accelerate construction of more than 5,000 solar projects at homes across New York State. This loan complements a separate $25 million NY Green Bank transaction with Sunrun, announced by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo last month, which provides longer-term financing following completion of the projects.

Sunrun logoWith both construction and longer-term financing in place, Sunrun will be able to meet the growing demand from homeowners and expand its ability to finance the installation of solar projects in New York State. The loan announced today will pay for the cost of purchasing materials and installing the solar projects. Sunrun designs, installs, finances, insures, monitors and maintains homeowners’ solar panel installations, so families can have more predictable electricity bills for 20 years or more without a high upfront cost.

“This transaction will allow for construction of a significantly larger number of residential solar systems, which drives down system costs and creates jobs for contractors and installers,” said Alfred Griffin, President of NY Green Bank. “It will also encourage other capital providers to more actively participate in the clean energy marketplace, as it drives standardization of residential solar construction financing products.”

RELATED: New York utilities, SolarCity propose landmark partnership 

NY Green Bank’s participation as part of two consortia of capital providers in these two financings with Sunrun will broaden the availability of solar financing for homeowners statewide, in support of Governor Cuomo’s Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) strategy to build a clean, affordable and resilient energy system for all New Yorkers. Under REV, New York State is implementing the Clean Energy Standard, which requires that 50 percent of energy used in the State come from renewable resources by 2030.

By providing financial products for solar and other clean energy projects that are not readily available from private lenders, NY Green Bank helps project developers keep up with growing demand, standardizes financing documentation, and overcomes financing barriers that can hamper the growth of clean energy projects.

NY Green Bank is a division of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and a key component of New York’s 10-year, $5.3 million Clean Energy Fund (CEF) to accelerate the use of clean energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase energy efficiency, and spur economic development in New York State.

John Rhodes, President and CEO, NYSERDA, said, “Many solar developers face the challenge of securing sufficient financing to meet customer demand, which hampers their ability to grow and drive a larger number of projects to completion. This transaction demonstrates the state’s investment in advancing Governor Cuomo’s clean energy goals.”

The nine NY Green Bank transactions closed to date total $121 million stimulating $518.3 million in clean energy projects in New York State. These projects are expected to reduce lifetime greenhouse gas emissions in New York State by more than 2.9 million metric tons, which is equivalent to taking more than 37,000 cars off the road for 17 years.

— Solar Builder magazine

Phono Solar is providing PV modules for a ton of Target installs across the country

Phono Solar, a provider of integrated solar solutions, delivered 15 MW of 310 W polycrystalline solar modules to Greenskies Renewable Energy, a Middletown, CT-based turnkey solar energy provider, for the first phase of their Target Corp. solar project portfolio.

Phono Solar delivered 16,031 solar PV modules to 30 Target outlets across the United States, which will result in approximately 20-30 percent energy savings per location. Greenskies has now installed rooftop solar systems at 101 stores to complete the first stage of Target’s solar initiative, and is planning an additional 79 installations for the big-box retailer as part of the second phase of construction, scheduled to be completed by Q2 of 2017.

Phono Solar“Phono Solar has been a very reliable and responsive partner, and their level of service far surpasses most of their competition,” said Allen Sabins, Vice President of Procurement and Technology at Greenskies. “Based on our market research and third party feedback, we were able to draw the simple conclusion that Phono has a superior product in the marketplace, and after working with them on the execution side of several projects, we realized their support group was superior to the marketplace as well.”

RELATED: Tips for planning your next retail PV project 

Phono Solar named Greenskies as one of two U.S. recipients of the company’s 2015 Best Business Partner Award.

“Greenskies was selected for their outstanding communication and flexibility during their nationwide Target store installation project,” said Bob Onofrey, Vice President of Sales for Phono Solar, “Dealing with dozens of stores and contractors in such a short period of time posed logistical challenges but Greenskies did a tremendous job streamlining the projects to keep the installations on-track.”

In recent news, Phono Solar qualified as one of two module manufacturers to have scored top-tier results during a series of module reliability tests commissioned by DNV-GL. Phono Solar’s modules excelled particularly in the areas of potential induced degradation (PID), thermal cycling and mechanical load testing. The DNV-GL PV Module Reliability Scorecard Report allows investors and developers to execute effective procurement strategies to ensure project longevity.


— Solar Builder magazine

Maryland PSC approves community solar pilot program

maryland community solar

The Maryland Public Service Commission has approved final regulations to establish a community solar pilot program in Maryland, with an emphasis on providing renewable energy benefits for low and moderate income customers. The regulations are expected to be published on July 8, 2016 in the Maryland Register and will become final 10 days later (July 18).

The regulations initiated from legislation (HB 1087) passed in the 2015 Maryland General Assembly session and signed by Governor Larry Hogan, and were considered in a rule making process docketed by the Commission as RM56.

“This pilot program will implement the General Assembly’s desire to increase access to solar electricity for all Maryland ratepayers, especially low and moderate income customers,” said W. Kevin Hughes, PSC Chairman. “In addition, it will encourage private investment in Maryland’s solar industry and diversify the state’s energy resource mix to meet the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act goals.”

RELATED: Minnesota solar: Rebates to be extended, community solar coming online (maybe for real this time) 

Under the proposed regulations, the three-year community solar pilot program will:

• Provide access to solar-generated electricity – in a manner similar to rooftop solar and net metering – for all Maryland customers without requiring property ownership;

• Incentivize solar companies to provide service to low- and moderate-income customers;

• Attract new investment in Maryland’s renewable infrastructure and green economy;

• Allow renters to contract for solar energy with the same benefits as rooftop owners;

• Set aside program capacity for each area of the state with a statewide cap of over 200 MW.  About 60 MW is set aside for projects focused on low and moderate income customers;

• Create separate program capacity for small systems and systems built on brownfields, parking lots, or industrial areas;

• Allow smaller and rural service territories to make use of existing solar facilities while encouraging construction of new systems in the urban and suburban areas of Maryland;

• Include significant consumer protections, including prohibition against unreasonable fees and clear contract disclosure requirements; and

• Allow the Commission Staff to collect data necessary data and study the impact on Maryland’s electricity grid over the three-year pilot program.

— Solar Builder magazine

Solar trackers power metal refinishing company Sungen Circle Finishing

Photo credit: Gary Hall.

Photo credit: Gary Hall.

Twenty-two solar trackers are now powering metalwork company Sungen Circle Finishing in Newburyport, Mass. The 186-kW solar project will help offset more than 65 percent of the electrical needs of the local metal refinishing company.

Originally the company installed a fixed ground mounted system in 2010 that was damaged by 6 feet of snow during a winter storm in 2015. As a repair remedy, the lower section of panels on fixed racking was dismantled and panels were relocated on 22 AllEarth Solar Trackers onsite. This location is unique because of a 50-50 split system between fixed solar and trackers, already clearly demonstrating power output difference from trackers at the same site.

The project utilized New England-made AllEarth Solar Trackers, which track the sun throughout the day to maximize energy production. The ground-mounted pre-engineered solar trackers are designed for residential and commercial-scale installations and are manufactured in Williston, Vt. by AllEarth Renewables.

RELATED: The value of residential solar trackers for installers and customers 

AllEarth Solar Trackers produce over 30 percent more energy than fix ground-mounted systems and up to 45 percent more energy than rooftop systems per kilowatt installed.

The project was installed by Talmage Solar Engineering, Inc. / Solar Market, one of the oldest and most experienced solar installation companies in the country, located in Arundel, Maine.

“We were thrilled to supply innovative, American-made solar trackers for this project, a solar solution that will produce more energy from the sun and give our customer greater long-term energy savings. The uniqueness of having 50-50 split of fixed and tracking systems at the same location will give us great deal of information about power output value between tracking and fixed solar systems,” said Naoto Inoue for Solar Market / Talmage Solar Engineering, Inc.

“We are very pleased with the project design and construction, and continue to be pleased with the solar performance of our project. We continue to enjoy our solar savings each and every day at our business,” said Rod L`Italien of Sungen Circle Finishing, Inc.

— Solar Builder magazine