Green Street Power Partners buys up portfolio of community solar projects in New York via SunPower

SunPower Helix module mounting

Green Street Power Partners LLC (GSPP) has purchased a portfolio of community solar projects all in Con Edison’s service zone, from SunPower. A 918-kilowatt rooftop project in Maspeth, Queens, will be the first completed featuring SunPower Helix technology. The project was originated by SunPower dealer Accord Power, who is also providing development and engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) services. Construction is set to begin April 1 and expected to be complete by late spring 2018. GSPP will own the system, highlighting the company’s increased focus on project acquisition.

“This project, along with the additional projects we are currently acquiring, will have a profound impact on our company while helping us achieve our goals of being a leader in community solar, and commercial and industrial solar markets,” said Scott Kerner, Co-Founder and CEO. “We are also thrilled about the next chapter in our collaboration with SunPower and its network of dealers, and are hopeful that these projects will be the first of many.”

The SunPower Helix advanced technology which will be used for this 918-kilowatt rooftop solar system is expected to offset approximately 20,496 metric tons of carbon dioxide from the five boroughs over the lifetime of the system, the equivalent of preserving 167 acres of forest. The project will provide power to more than 150 homes in New York City.

“We are thrilled that Green Street Power Partners is taking a leadership position in helping to encourage development of reliable solar energy projects like this one featuring SunPower’s leading-edge solar technology,” said Nam Nguyen, SunPower executive vice president, commercial. “We look forward to building on this shared success in the future, bringing value to even more customers.”

— Solar Builder magazine

SunPower installs 10-MW solar + storage system at U.S. Army post in Alabama

Redstone Arsenal ribbon cutting SunPower

Redstone Arsenal and SunPower Corp. cut the ribbon for a 10-MW solar photovoltaic and 1-MW energy storage system now in operation at the U.S. Army post in Alabama. The solar array and storage project was designed, built and will be operated and maintained by SunPower, with financing provided by Birmingham-headquartered Regions Bank. The solar array, combined with a storage component that maximizes clean electricity use at Redstone, is expected to improve the Army’s energy resilience, reduce electricity costs, and provide energy diversity.

“Through innovative collaboration between the Army, Team Redstone, and industry partners, we’ve cost-effectively built a reliable, home-grown renewable energy project that is expected to deliver savings for decades, allowing us to invest more resources in protecting the nation and those we serve,” said Lt. Gen. Edward M. Daly, Senior Commander, Redstone Arsenal.

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This project is a collaboration between the U.S. Army Office of Energy Initiatives, Redstone Arsenal, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and SunPower, and features a SunPower Oasis Power Plant system. The fully integrated, modular solar power block is engineered and built for compatibility with a future micro-grid, and is paired with storage to reduce peak power-related demand charges for Redstone Arsenal.

“Demand for solar-and-storage technology continues to rise, delivering significant savings to customers with high electricity demand, like the U.S. military,” said Nam Nguyen, SunPower executive vice president. “We congratulate the Army and Redstone Arsenal for seeing the value in a resilient energy project from SunPower that will help lower operational costs and free up more funds to support their mission.”

The Army is purchasing 100 percent of the electricity generated by the project through a 27-year power purchase agreement (PPA) at rates competitive with traditional energy sources. Regions Bank is providing the capital required for the solar and storage project, eliminating the need for capital expenditure by the Army. Cornerstone Financial Advisors, LLC served as financial advisor to Region Bank on this transaction.

“Regions Bank supports the development of innovative clean energy generation by providing efficient financing solutions that take into consideration advances in technology, such as this project’s energy storage system,” said Frank Conley, Senior Vice President Solar Finance for Regions. “We are very pleased to team up with SunPower on the Redstone Arsenal solar facility and have a role in reducing the Army’s electricity costs while enhancing its clean energy utilization.”

SunPower is a trusted solar advisor to federal government agencies such as the Department of Energy and the Department of Defense, having deployed solar power systems at military facilities nationwide including more than 28 megawatts at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, 13.78 megawatts at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake and 28 megawatts at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, as well as 5.6 megawatts at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.

For more information on how solar and storage solutions can benefit federal agencies, read SunPower’s blog post hereor visit

— Solar Builder magazine

Post-solar tariff roundup: Installation forecasts, SunPower delays, WTO challenge

solar tariff imports

Tariffs are being placed on solar modules and cells, per orders of Donald Trump, and will be effective Feb. 7, 2018. Here are all of the details on how these will go into effect. What follows is an updated forecast for U.S. solar installations during that tariff period and additional solar industry fallout since the decision was made official on Jan. 23.

GTM’s updated forecast

GTM Research solar tariff 3

GTM Research predicts that tariffs and quotas will result in nearly a quarter million homes, businesses and other retail customers no longer installing solar between now and 2022. The somewhat good news is the expectation that the U.S. solar industry will “resume growth and recover beyond 2017 levels in 2019.” Sure, this is despite a 16 percent loss in demand compared to GTM Research’s original forecast, but better than some of the worst case scenarios initially feared.

GTM research solar tariff 1

The percentages break out like this during that 2018-2022 time period:

◦ Utility PV: 11.6% , 4.9 GW. “Utility Solar: As the near term pipeline of less sensitive RPS driven projects and projects already in construction depletes, effects of the tariff will be most severe in 2019. Reductions to demand will be lower in 2020 and 2021 as projects currently in development push out completion dates to leverage the tariff stepdown and commence construction rules for higher federal investment tax credit levels.”

GTM research solar tariff 2

◦ Non-Residential PV: 10.7%, 1.1 GW. “Non-Residential Solar: Large C&I customers with challenging rate structures and community solar with higher transaction and soft costs result in nonresidential solar being more sensitive than residential solar. However, the near term outlook is partly protected by less sensitive projects grandfathered in under retiring policies and incentives across the top 4 state markets in 2018 (i.e. CA, MA, MN and NY).”

◦ Residential PV: 9.9%, 1.5 GW. “Residential Solar: Major residential state markets (i.e. CA and the Northeast) will see the largest declines in absolute MWs, but are mostly expected to maintain 10%+ year 1 savings compared to emerging state markets that round out the top 15 state market rankings.”

But we were promised more jobs

Reuters reports that SunPower, one of the largest and most influential companies in the U.S. solar industry, is now postponing a $20 million factory expansion because of the tariff decision. Hm. This seems odd because Fearless Leader assured us tariffs would save U.S. manufacturing. But nonetheless, here is SunPower CEO Tom Werner:

“We have to stop the $20 million investment because the tariffs start before we know if we’re excluded,” he said. “It’s not hypothetical. These were positions that we were recruiting for that we are going to stop.”

The article says SunPower is seeking an exception from the 30 percent tariff imposed this week so they can continue to grow the company in California and Texas while relying on manufacturing locations in the Philippines and Mexico.

Will there be exceptions?

The only countries excluded from the safeguard tariff are developing nations designated as “GSP-Eligible Beneficiaries,” which you can view here, but even that’s not quite true because the Philippines and Thailand are not excluded, SEIA notes. Canada and Mexico are also not excluded from the tariff.

Product exclusions though, are still a possibility. Trump has directed the USTR to publish rules for requesting product exclusions by Feb. 22.

Updates on appeals

The only challenge to the tariffs at this point can come from a sovereign nation appealing to the World Trade Organization, which has been an effective tool for said nations, as the United States has lost every safeguard challenge at the WTO.

“This is not the first time a Republican president introduces trade barriers,” said Dr Fragkiskos Filippaios, reader in International Business at Kent Business School at the University of Kent. “George Bush in the early 2000s introduced tariffs on the imports of steel. The matter was raised from other countries to WTO and the ruling of the international organization led to the immediate withdrawal of the measures. It is highly likely that this is going to be the outcome in the washing machines and solar products case. Donald Trump will have gained brownie points internally by fulfilling his promise to put “America First” but at the same time will put the blame on WTO and its rulings for not being able to maintain the trade restrictions.”

SEIA also notes that the remedy is subject to a mid-term review by the International Trade Commission (ITC), including a public hearing that will result in a report to the president. The ITC would likely start its examination in the summer of 2019 in order to deliver a report to the president in January 2020.

— Solar Builder magazine

Watch: Stellar Solar goes inside some of its residential installations on Solar Cribs series

I don’t know about you, but we love a good solar installation story, which is why we enjoy this Solar Cribs YouTube series launched by Stellar Solar, San Diego’s oldest SunPower dealer and one of two Master Dealers in San Diego County. Above we have episode three, which features the story of Michael and Jeanne Powers from their first solar installation in the North Park neighborhood of San Diego, to their new home that features a unique racking system custom built to optimize a less than perfect roof pitch and direction.

As Michael describes in this episode and has been preaching for years, going solar should be an easy decision for most homeowners when they look at the history of utility rate increases and the ever-shortening return on investment.

“I’ve always asked homeowners a few simple questions when they ask about going solar. The first is to do the math and see what their current utility bill will cost them over the next 20-30 years. Then ask them add in a very conservative utility rate increase based on historic averages. When they look at the numbers they see the light and that’s what gives me the most satisfaction.” He added, “It’s been a thrill for me to see solar take off not only in San Diego but nationally and globally. I’m proud to have played a part to educate consumers to help spur that growth.”

Michael has also been a vocal supporter of Community Choice Energy, a program that allows cities and counties to buy and/or generate electricity for residents and businesses within their areas. The Climate Action Campaign in San Diego is an organization whose goal is to “Stop Climate Change – One City at a Time” is a proponent of Community Choice Energy and has worked closely with Michael over the years on that and other renewable energy related issues.

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— Solar Builder magazine

Watch: Solar Optimum adds 780-kW SunPower system across Laguna Woods Village

SunPower Elite Dealer Solar Optimum is helping Orange County’s premier senior living community Laguna Woods Village embrace energy efficiency by installing an aggregate total of approximately 780 kW DC, producing 1,337,333 kWH, offsetting the common area load that the community was paying high Southern California Edison electricity bills for. This “Best in Class” project is the largest SunPower Helix project interconnected in the west coast in 2017.

The project consists of 12 buildings which were occupied while the work was performed and Solar Optimum used the SunPower Helix dual tilt PV solar system, which notably is the highest density solar system on the market today. The cutting-edge technology sped up the process and Solar Optimum’s rigorous safety measures made it possible to install while tenants occupied the facilities.

This was the most complicated virtual net metering project ever processed by Southern California Edison with over 550 benefiting meters offset by 800 kW on 12 sites. A typical virtual net metering project has a mere 10 to 20 meters with just one rather than 12 connection points. Southern California Edison requires meters to be lined up with parcels. “With such a large project, it was like a Rubik’s cube lining it all up. All sides are green now,” exclaims Gene Okun, Solar Optimum’s commercial project manager.

“Our goal was to get the project installed to meet the looming net metering 1.0 deadline, when rates on solar energy credit would rise and cost the community an additional $15,000 per month in meter fees,” says Gene Okun. “Solar Optimum and SunPower managed the deadline successfully, despite the size and complexity of the project. We are pleased with the results.”

The Solar Optimum team had to tackle the small sizes of the host buildings which made power density critical. “We were originally planning for 16 buildings as host sites, but the SunPower Helix system made it possible for us to get all that power in 12 buildings,” says Bill McNeese, director of business development at Solar Optimum. “This gave us the competitive advantage, reducing the number of roofs needing to be replaced by the community. When the cost-benefit analysis was complete, the board unanimously selected Solar Optimum and SunPower Helix.”

“We realized that Laguna Woods Village had other very competitive proposals but were confident in our ability to deliver the project within the tight timeframe despite its complexities and engineering challenges,” says Gene Okun. “With the success of Laguna Woods Village, we look forward to expanding our commercial portfolio and taking on new challenges in the Southern California market.”

— Solar Builder magazine