Arizona solar leasing

Arizona Corporation Commission Launches Probe Into Solar Leasing Practices

Arizona solar leasingThe Arizona Corporation Commission decided on Friday to launch an investigation into the business practices of the rooftop solar industry, a move that aims to address mounting concerns that solar leasing companies are misleading consumers.

Leasing is the most popular avenue for going solar because it’s seen as a way for homeowners to save money and energy without the upfront costs of buying solar systems outright. In Arizona, roughly 80 percent of all solar customers lease their systems.

But consumers, Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne and Congress members have been raising concerns that leasing companies might be using deceptive marketing and overstating the cost savings to homeowners. Several Democratic and Republican members of Congress, including Kyrsten Sinema and Matt Salmon, among other Arizona lawmakers, have recently sent letters to the Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau requesting the matter be looked into.



Cleantech Venture Capital: Why Are These Investors Smiling?

Ira Ehrenpreis and Nancy PfundCleantech venture capital has been a spectacular success. It’s just been unevenly distributed.

I’m going to suggest that cleantech venture capital, as measured by societal impact, has been a spectacular success in 2014 and over the last few years.

For the moment, I’m not going to allow conventional wisdom, hard financial data or actual events to intrude, and I’m going to ignore the smoking craters where most cleantech VC funds and startups once stood.


SunEdison Closes 2nd Fund for DPV Projects in U.S.

SunEdisonSunEdison, a leading global solar technology manufacturer and provider of solar energy services, today announced that is has closed its second fund for distributed generation projects in the United States with Barclays and Citi. The lease pass-through fund is valued at $117 million, and follows on the Barclays and Citi fund closed earlier this year. This brings the aggregate value of funds closed this year with Barclays and Citi for SunEdison and TerraForm Power’s distributed generation projects to $290 million.

The fund will provide financing for a portfolio of distributed generation projects in 12 states across the West Coast, mid-Atlantic, New England, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. These projects are expected to be operational in the fourth quarter of 2014 through the first half of 2015. Upon mechanical completion, the projects will be sold to TerraForm Power.

“Barclays and Citi have been great partners, working with SunEdison to bring distributed solar to new markets and customers,” said Ryan Bennett, vice president of project finance, North America at SunEdison. “The creation of this second fund, so soon after the first, speaks to the success of our relationship with Barclays and Citi. This latest round continues to support our business model of developing high quality commercial and industrial projects with efficient capital provided by great partners.  This is a highly scalable model that allows us to make life easy for our customers.   As a result, business is booming.”

“The new fund with Barclays and Citi allows TerraForm Power to acquire a portfolio of highly attractive operational projects that are in geographically diverse locations,” said Carlos Domenech, president and chief executive officer of TerraForm Power. “With this partnership, TerraForm Power continues to grow rapidly, building strong momentum in the marketplace and delivering value to its shareholders.”

“Citi is proud to continue its support for SunEdison and to help expand the financing of distributed generation solar power projects throughout the United States,” said Marshal Salant, Head of Alternative Energy Finance at Citi. “Citi is committed to bringing the benefits of clean renewable energy to more businesses and consumers. This second SunEdison fund further develops the market for corporate, industrial and municipal medium-scale projects, and complements Citi’s efforts to help clients finance large utility-scale and small-scale residential rooftop solar power projects.”

“Barclays is pleased to continue its support of SunEdison through this new fund, demonstrating our desire to continue to grow our role in the distributed generation solar tax equity market.  Transactions like this are a real win-win for SunEdison and Barclays, as our expanded investment in SunEdison’s solar development business also helps us deliver on our own citizenship commitments,” said Rama Subramaniam, managing director, Barclays.


Meet Generate Capital, a new way to fund energy projects

Retrofitted LED lighting in Florida
Retrofitted LED lighting in Florida

By now, most of us know the story of how Silicon Valley’s love affair with “cleantech” didn’t turn out so well. As of the end of 2014, most VCs no longer do energy tech investing (beyond software-based deals), and only a small handful of groups are trying to tackle energy investing and entrepreneurship in new ways (like M37 or Hawaii’s Energy Excelerator).

But I’ve just learned about one of the more interesting new energy investing projects out there, from entrepreneurial investors Scott Jacobs, co-founder of EFW Partners and McKinsey’s cleantech practice, and Jigar Shah, the former founding CEO of SunEdison. Called Generate Capital, the team is providing capital for energy, water and food infrastructure assets using the solar-as-a-service model of financing that Shah pioneered at SunEdison.

Interview with Richard Kauffman: “It’s about availability of financing, not cost of financing.”

520-portrait_richard_kauffmanRichard Kauffman is supervising New York’s entire energy portfolio, including the New York State Department of Public Service, the New York Power Authority, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), and the Long Island Power Authority. Under his leadership, New York has launched the Reforming the Energy Vision (REV)(link is external), a far-reaching restructuring of regulations for the energy industry, and committed US-$ 5 billion through 2023 to support local renewable energy and efficiency markets. Not least, he has overlooked the establishment of the New York Green Bank(link is external) and a $1 billion investment in the NY-Sun solar initiative.

S&WE: Governor Cuomo introduced you as New York’s energy czar in January 2013 and since then you seem to be on a mission to fundamentally reform New York State’s energy sector. Originally active in the private sector in finance, what made you switch from Washington overlooking federal energy policies now to the state level?


Delhi prepares for net metering as India rooftop PV boom predicted

India continues its “special focus” on solar energy with state rooftop policies. Image: Bridge to India Solar Rooftop Map 2015

Electricity distributors, or ‘discoms’, in Delhi have been instructed by the Delhi Electricity Regulation Commission (DERC) to bolster infrastructure for rooftop solar customers.

Two discoms owned by BSES and Tata Power Delhi have been directed to upgrade grid infrastructure as soon as possible so that rooftop solar customers can sell power they generate to the grid.

Earlier this year Delhi took the first steps towards what could potentially be a huge rooftop solar market by publishing regulations for a new net metering policy.

This will allow customers to benefit from either subsidising their own energy bills with solar energy generation, or receiving credits for supplying the grid with solar energy from rooftop solar systems.

Solyndra who? DoE loans programme back in black

520-agua-calienteThe US Department of Energy loans guarantee programme has made more from interest payments than it lost on failed companies such as Solyndra.

Figures released by the department this week show it is on track to make more than US$5 billion profit by the time it closes with US$810 million it has received to date, exceeding the US$780 million in losses from companies that defaulted.

The losses make up just under 2.3% of the more than US$35 billion it has loaned to low carbon companies.

Switzerland cuts feed-in tariff for photovoltaics

520-IHS 520-markt_pv_schweizThe Swiss Federal Council has passed a resolution cutting feed-in tariffs for photovoltaic power by between 12 and 23 percent. The alterations will be effective from 1 January 2015.

Both feed-in remuneration at cost (Kostendeckende Einspeisevergütung – KEV) and the one-off payment for installations with an output below 30 kW are affected by the cuts. Rates of remuneration are to be cut in two stages, from 1 April and 1 October 2015.

The KEV cuts will affect small installations more seriously.

Dry Creek tribe plans large solar power project

520-dry-creekA huge solar array could be in place by next spring in the hills overlooking Lake Sonoma under a cooperative venture announced Monday between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Dry Creek Band of Pomo Indians.

The solar panels would generate electricity for the fish hatchery, visitors center and other buildings at the base of Warm Springs Dam northwest of Healdsburg, as well as the tribe’s River Rock Casino and its other facilities near Geyserville, according to details released by the tribe and the Army Corps.

Tribal Chairman Harvey Hopkins called it “great for the tribe, great for Sonoma County and great for the environment.”

Sungage Financial secures $100 million for solar loan program

520-NREL_Solar_Design_AssociatesFollowing its participation in the CT Green Bank solar loan program, the Boston startup is aiming to expand residential solar loans on the East Coast.

Sungage aims to finance some 4,000 residential PV installations through its $100 million loan program.

Sungage Financial is partnering with Massachusetts-based Digital Federal Credit Union (DCU) to provide $100 million in solar loans to residential customers in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York and New Jersey looking to install PV systems on their homes.

Sungage and DCU are expected to expand the program to other states next year. The Boston-based Sungage aims to finance some 4,000 PV installations through the program.


Altus Power America: The company that’s spreading solar energy by making it a boring investment.

atlus-powerBack when it was an expensive, unproven technology, solar energy was driven by hippies in sandals rigging up off-the-grid systems. About a decade ago, change-the-world Silicon Valley types hoping to make gazillions of dollars entered the fray, raising venture capital and promoting moonshot projects, like futuristic solar farms in the Southwestern desert.

Now come the financial service professionals. Because when it’s structured properly, the business of building solar panels and generating carbon-fee electricity can be a solid investment. Not a killer one that will mint billionaires overnight, and not a do-gooder plunge that will pay socially conscious investors below-market returns. But rather a mainstream vehicle that appeals to middle-aged guys in khakis who are more concerned with creating reliable streams of income and beating benchmarks than they are with saving the planet.

What Commercial Solar Developers Need to Know about Yieldcos

commercial-solar-yieldcoThere have been some basic descriptions of yieldcos in the trade press, but nothing has described what commercial solar installers need to know about this new legal structure or how it could impact their day-to-day business.

This article will try to translate some of the buzz and address the questions that commercial solar installers will likely have. For example:

  • Do yieldcos have a tax appetite?
  • How will yieldcos impact that day-to-day operations of a commercial solar developer or EPC focused on mid-market projects?
  • When should you start doing research on yieldcos?

SMUD turns landfill at park into solar power array

Solar array at Sutter's Landing
Solar array at Sutter’s Landing

Sacramento Municipal Utility District has built a 1.5-megawatt solar array at Sutter’s Landing park, the site of a former landfill.

This $4 million project is meant not only to generate power, but also to demonstrate how solar power arrays can fit into an urban landscape. The site is close to power users on land that can’t be used for much else, said Kathleen Ave, project manager with SMUD.

It was built by SMUD and the German solar company Conergy with grants from the U.S. Department of Energy and the California Energy Commission. Sutter’s Landing Regional Park is at the top of the levee at the base of 28th Street.

PACE Yourself

rooftop-solarProperty Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) loans allow property owners to finance clean energy improvements to their properties generally secured by property liens senior to mortgages through tax assessments. Moody’s recently released a special comment expressing some concerns and not-so-subtle hints that it thinks that lenders and securitizers should take PACE programs seriously.

Commercial PACE programs are currently small, but growing.  PACE loans are generally structured as a tax lien and allow property owners to finance (mainly) clean energy property improvements such as the addition of solar panels to a building over a period of up to twenty years.  As of September 2014 more than 260 commercial PACE projects totaling $83 million have been financed nationally.  The largest PACE loan was for $7 million on the Los Angeles Hilton Hotel.  Another $300 million worth of project applications are pending.