Meet the Team: Solar Services

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A solar company like Solect is made up of a number of different teams, working together to accomplish tasks that enable the construction and management of solar arrays. Today on the blog, we are featuring our own services team, highlighting who they are, what they do, and how each person contributes to the solar process and our customer experience as a whole.

Overall, the Solect services team operates to ensure each of the arrays managed under Solect service agreements are fully functional and operating at the highest possible level of production and efficiency. There are a number of different players on this team.

Services Leadership

Steve Bianchi circleSenior VP & General Manager of Customer Services; Steve Bianchi.

The Senior VP & General Manager of Customer Services oversees the entire Services division at Solect. This person is responsible for the overall strategic direction and P&L for Customer Service at Solect as well as developing the sales model for Service Agreements and service call projects to secure revenue growth for the company. The SVP of Customer Services also works with the operations team to build out the capabilities of the organization and improve the overall efficiency of the team in order to grow the business and support existing installations as well as new customers that are looking for a service company for their solar system.

Frank CircleSenior VP of Operations; Frank Newhard.

The Senior Vice President of Operations at Solect oversees many departments within the company including the design and engineering, logistics, construction, project management, regulatory and customer service teams. Providing leadership to Operations, this position ensures the company delivers the highest level of quality and efficiency in order to provide optimum effectiveness of customers’ solar systems. 

Celia CircleDirector, Customer Support Center; Celia Rosenberg.

The Director of Customer Support is responsible for leading and managing all facets of work within the Customer Support Center including regulatory, permitting, customer services dispatch and administration, monitoring, and customer advocacy.  This key team member helps to enable both the sales and field operations teams to perform their functions.

Field Service team

The field service team is responsible for carrying out technical work on solar arrays, including preventative maintenance, corrective maintenance, technical commissionings, and any work that needs to be done with the physical system in the field.  The field service team is made up of a services field manager and several service technicians.

JohnCircle Services Field Manager; John Donavan.

The Services Field Manager schedules and manages all field service work. This position handles much of the technical commissioning responsibilities, and is responsible for prioritizing and managing service fulfillment.

JoshcircleKeith circleJackCircleSolar Technicians: Josh Palmer; Senior Solar Technician, Keith O’Regan and Jack Kenney; Solar Technicians.

Solar technicians are responsible for carrying out the technical work done as part of service fulfillment. This includes performing preventative maintenance work, assisting on technical commissionings, responding to corrective maintenance requests, and assisting in system construction.

Customer Support Center

The customer support team is dedicated to ensuring our solar service customers receive the most efficient, reliable service possible. The customer support team works mainly in Solect’s office, with some field work required. The team is made up of a Service Administrator, Customer Advocate, two Regulatory Specialists, and a Customer Support Specialist.

marycircleService Administrator; Mary Rindler.

The Service Administrator manages all scheduling, service contract preparation, service reposts, invoices, and permitting. The administrator ensures the field service team is efficiently dispatched to sites that need service, and makes sure all service activities are properly recorded, managed, and communicated.

Drew circleCustomer Advocate; Drew Peterson.

The Customer Advocate is dedicated to ensuring Solect customers have the best solar experience possible. The customer advocate acts as a liaison between the Solect installation, electrical, and service technicians and the customer. Their main role is advocating on behalf of the customer to voice any concerns, answer any questions, and be a general resource to the business owners and stakeholders involved in a solar installation.

MargicircleDave circle Regulatory Specialists; Margi Annese and Dave Fitzgerald.

The solar industry is rife with regulations. Regulatory specialists ensure Solect installations comply with each regulation, managing interconnection application submissions, impact studies, net metering administration, and all other regulatory and permit-related affairs. This dedicated team is experienced with all regulatory affairs related to a solar installation, and works to ensure each Solect project is in full compliance with these regulations.

MarcCircleCustomer Support Specialist; Marc Smith.

The Customer Support Specialist works with the service team to manage all system monitoring, SREC production monitoring, and provide net metering billing support. This specialist works in a technological capacity to ensure customer arrays are operating as they should be. The customer support specialist keeps a watchful eye on all projects on a daily basis and is the first to be alerted should an issue arise.

Made up of a set of dedicated, skilled individuals, the Solect Services team’s number one goal is delivering top-notch service to our customers and ensuring their investment is fully optimized.

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The History of Solar Energy: Let’s Geek Out

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Solar energy has gained substantial traction in the United States, with installations in every state growing every day, and hundreds of thousands of people employed in the industry. With solar on such an unstoppable trajectory, most people are focused on the future of the industry. Today, we are going to take a look back at the history of solar in America, and how we got to where we are today.

Scientific Building Blocks

One could argue that “solar energy” has been used to the benefit of humanity for centuries; we have records from 700 BC of people using mirrors to concentrate energy from the sun using magnifying glasses in order to make fires bigger. However, the history of the modern solar cell begins in 1876, when scientist William Grylls Adams discovered that Selenium, when exposed to sunlight, produces electricity. The first instance of an attempt to harness this electricity comes in 1883, when American inventor Charles Fritts developed the first design for a photovoltaic cell using Selenium wafers. Though Fritts is credited with this design, the cell was never successfully built.

In 1905, none other than Albert Einstein contributed his own knowledge to what would become the advent of solar technology, through his discoveries that one could “liberate” electrons on a metal surface by exposing them to light. This discovery was followed by another in 1918 by Polish scientist Jan Czochralski, who discovered how to grow single-crystal silicon. With this discovery, the scientific world had discovered everything necessary to develop modern solar technology.

The First Photovoltaic Cell & Early Adoption

The first photovoltaic cell was created in 1954 by American researchers David Chapin, Calvin Fuller, and Gerald Pearson of Bell Labs in New Jersey. These men are credited with the birth of photovoltaics, as they were the first to construct a device that could turn sunlight into usable electricity. Although by today’s standards the cell was highly inefficient, it worked well enough to run small electrical devices, eventually reaching 11% efficiency. On the front page of their April 26, 1954 issue, the New York Times proclaimed the discovery “…the beginning of a new era, leading eventually to the realization of one of mankind’s most cherished dreams — the harnessing of the almost limitless energy of the sun for the uses of civilization.”

By 1956, the first solar cells were commercially available, albeit far too expensive to be adopted at any significant scale. At $300 per watt, the solar scope we see today was far beyond the means of any consumer. Instead, solar cells began appearing in toys and radios, the first iteration of the technology being adopted for commercial purposes.

In the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, solar technology was deployed in space, installed on satellites in both U.S. and Soviet space programs. By the late 1960’s, solar power was standard in interstellar satellites.

A Growing Force

In the early 1970’s, technological developments from American Dr. Elliot Berman significantly lowered solar costs, bringing the price down from $100 per watt to around $20 per watt. The Exxon Corporation funded the research that led to this milestone, and the resulting solar panel was more efficient and less expensive than its predecessors, allowing commercial viability for solar technology and leading to a turning point in the adoption of solar energy.

The 1970s saw a global solar energy turning point as well, as the world reeled from the tumultuous repercussions of the Arab oil embargo. As oil prices quadrupled and lines formed around the blocks of gas stations throughout the country, it became apparent that the world had need of a more diverse energy system. In 1977, the US embraced the development of solar energy by creating the Solar Energy Research Institute. Other countries worldwide followed suit in the creation of their own solar-dedicated institutions. In 1978 the first iteration of a Feed-In-Tariff was implemented when President Jimmy Carter signed the National Energy Act (NEA) to encourage energy efficiency and the continued development of renewables.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

The 1970’s through the 1990’s saw slow but steady adoption of solar energy, as solar manufacturers continued making solar cells smaller and less expensive. This continued pace of development is dotted with specific feats of engineering that brought notoriety and further technological development to the field. In 1981, Paul Macready built the first solar powered aircraft. Powered by over 1,600 solar cells, the plane flew from France to England. In 1982, the first solar powered cars were developed in Germany, continuing the trend of solar-powered transportation.

Throughout this time period, developers were building increasingly large solar energy plants, establishing solar as more than just a niche energy source.  In the 1990’s, the first grid-supported solar PV system was completed in Kerman, CA, as the world’s first instance of “distributed generation,” and Germany began setting capacity goals. Solar was becoming mainstream.

Entering the Modern Solar Age

At the break of the 21st century, we saw continued developments in solar efficiency capabilities and governmental dedication to the growth of the industry. Research teams continued to break efficiency records and develop cheaper, more viable technology, which in turn allowed greater solar adoption worldwide. Governments began instituting significant financial incentives to encourage more widespread adoption of solar energy.

In 2005, the U.S. passed the Energy Policy Act, introducing for the first time a 30% investment tax credit (ITC) for residential and commercial solar energy systems. This policy was extended for one year in 2006 under the Tax Relief and Health Care Act, for eight years in 2008 under the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, and for multiple years on a declining scale system in 2015 under the Omnibus Appropriations Act, allowing a reduced iteration of this credit to apply to commercial solar energy systems indefinitely.

Since the late 2000’s solar has taken off to become a national phenomenon and a credible and reliable energy source. Earlier this year, the U.S. installed its millionth solar installation; a feat that took over 50 years to accomplish, and is expected to be doubled in just two more years. Solar has taken ahold of the country and the world. New financing options, increased efficiency, progressive policies, proven results, and a true and growing belief in this energy technology will keep growing, and will keep contributing to history as it does.

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Resources Consulted

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_power_in_the_United_States

http://solarenergy.com/info-history

http://exploringgreentechnology.com/solar-energy/history-of-solar-energy/

https://www.experience.com/alumnus/article?channel_id=energy_utilities&source_page=additional_articles&article_id=article_1130427780670

http://energyinformative.org/the-history-of-solar-energy-timeline/

Solar Energy: An Ideal Tenant

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What are some key qualities of an ideal tenant? One who is reliable with payment, low maintenance, quiet, and signs a long-term lease, to name a few. A solar energy system on your property embodies all these qualities – with the added benefit of presenting your company as a proponent of clean energy!

Adding a solar PV system as a tenant is an excellent way to monetize your property. Thanks to a combination of electricity bill savings, state incentive programs like Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs) and tax exemptions, and the federal 30% Income Tax Credit (ITC), solar is an excellent way to turn your roof (or land, or parking lot even) into revenue. The best part? A solar tenant can take a number of different forms, able to adapt to the arrangement that best benefits your company.

Site Lease

A site lease is perhaps the most similar arrangement to a traditional tenant/landlord relationship. In a site lease agreement, you agree to lease your roof to a developer or an investor who uses the space to build a solar installation. You turn an unused space – your roof, an open plot of land, etc. – into a revenue stream. Even better, there is no installation or maintenance fees required of the property owner. All associated costs are the responsibility of the solar array owner. The property owner simply receives a monthly lease payment for the use of their space.

Before construction, the solar owner and the property owner enter into a lease agreement, where the solar owner agrees to pay a pre-negotiated lease amount to the property owner each year, in exchange for the property owner to provide the space for the array. These agreements typically last a period of 20 or more years. Under a site lease agreement, the host property does not receive any of the electricity generated from the array, and all power produced is fed back into the electric grid, and sold to either the municipality or other businesses in the area.

Solar site leases are an excellent way for an organization or a business to become involved with the solar industry without worrying about a capital investment, routine maintenance or incentive management, or the monitoring of a solar system. By participating in a solar site lease, you turn your roof or land into revenue, and help another member of your community receive the solar electricity they want.

PPA

Another “solar tenant” arrangement is a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). Similar to a site lease, a PPA involves a solar array owned by a third party investor, and not by the property host. In a PPA however, the host building purchases the electricity generated by the array from the solar owner at a reduced rate. The solar energy generated will be credited to the building owner’s electric bill, and the array owner will send a separate bill for the energy offset, charging  a significantly lower rate per kilowatt hour than the utility.

A power purchase agreement allows a company to take advantage of the operational cost savings benefits of a solar array, without the large capital investment required to build and own the array. In this scenario, the array owner also manages and maintains the system, allowing the solar host to simply benefit from reduced energy costs.

Owner Financed Array

The third option to open your property to a solar tenant is to purchase and own the array yourself. In this situation, you take on all responsibility for the array, but can also take advantage of all the financial benefits.

As an investment in infrastructure, solar is a capital expenditure and funds set aside for this purpose can be used to install a solar PV system. If a business does not have existing capital funds to purchase a solar PV system, they can finance a solar array with a capital loan from a bank or financial institution. Just like a car loan, the business will pay off the capital over time.

A solar system purchased with capital funds strays the farthest from the traditional tenant/landlord relationship. However, an owner-financed array is the most lucrative option, as you are able to take advantage of all energy savings, tax benefits, and SREC revenue generated by the array. A solar array does require some maintenance, though this is often limited to an annual preventative maintenance visit. Other than this annual maintenance, an owner-financed solar array acts as a lucrative, reliable, low-maintenance tenant.

When looking for new ways to monetize your property, give some thought to welcoming a solar tenant to your building. With flexible financing options and substantial rewards, it might be the best tenant you will ever have!

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Reducing Peak Demand with Solar Energy

PeakDemandBlog

The summer has officially started and already New England has seen a few periods of incredibly hot weather. 2016 has already demolished heat records, with the past six months recording temperatures significantly hotter than the historical average. That means we’ve started—and continue to run—air conditioning systems in addition to all of our other electricity usage. In some areas, this collective increase of energy use can put extreme pressure on the electric grid, which can lead to brownouts. Businesses and homeowners may be asked by their utilities to limit their electricity usage during periods of peak electric demand, and some utilities may even increase costs for electricity used during certain hours that coincide with periods of peak demands.

What is peak demand?
For electricity, it’s a period or periods in which electrical power is expected to be provided for a sustained period at a significantly higher than average supply level. To meet this demand, utilities have to engage alternate—and possibly less efficient and more expensive—energy sources to keep up with energy consumption. When this excess demand cannot be met, the grid may experience brownouts.

Enter solar energy. Peak periods of electricity use (from air conditioning, fans, etc.) generally occur in the afternoon on hot, sunny days. Coincidentally, this is prime time for solar generation. The contribution of solar energy to the grid during periods of peak demand is significant since, reducing demand on the grid through the addition of clean solar energy can help reduce the likelihood of brownouts and rolling blackouts when temperatures rise.
An increase in solar energy produced during peak periods equals decreased demand on the grid, and decreased demand on the grid means lower costs of energy during peak periods. The reality is that solar has the potential to bring the price of peak energy down for ratepayers across the board.

Need proof? Here’s a good example from California, which has perhaps more than its fair share of sunny afternoons. An early 2015 report from Wall Street consultancy Sanford Bernstein & Co. found that the rapid increase in the amount of solar PV available on the electricity grid in California (a seven-fold expansion in only four years, from 0.7 gigawatts (GW) in 2010 to 4.8 GW in 2014) had helped reduce system loads significantly—so much that peak prices were put off until later in the day, when demand was lower. Lower demand means lower prices. The report concludes that all power consumers in California benefit from lower afternoon power prices, not just those with rooftop solar PV panels.

While Massachusetts’ growth is not quite at the levels of California’s, the state has seen a rapid uptake in solar PV installations in recent years, and it’s reasonable to project what has been documented on the West Coast can also work on the East Coast.

There’s also the obvious environmental benefit of installing solar energy—using renewable energy means we’re reducing our dependency on fossil fuels and adopting cleaner ways of producing energy – and that’s a win-win for everyone.

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Gaining Energy Independence with Solar

Energy-Independence-Blog

As the explosions of fireworks ring in our ears and the taste of burgers is fresh in our mouths, we continue our celebration of the Fourth of July. At Solect, we do this by following our celebration of national independence with a celebration of energy independence through solar!

Energy independence is the goal of reducing U.S. dependence on foreign energy imports, specifically on imported oil and petroleum. Economically, the concept of energy independence is driven by supply and price stability; with a more diverse array of energy sources to draw upon, a country is more secure in these economic considerations. Politically, energy independence allows a country to remain politically flexible in international interactions.

The adoption of solar energy is one way to achieve energy independence, on both a national and an individual level. The more domestic solar energy we use as a country, the less we will need to rely on foreign imports of carbon-based fossil fuels, contributing to greater economic, political, and environmental stability. On an individual level, when a business owner or homeowner decides to go solar, they take energy generation into their own hands becoming their own power provider. This not only reduces costs, it provides electricity security to a business, and contributes to a greener environment.

Energy independence benefits nations and individuals because an independent energy market is a less volatile energy market. The main reason traditional energy prices are so volatile is that the market for fossil fuels like natural gas and oil is constantly fluctuating- limited supplies, high demand, and factors such as unpredictable weather all affect price variance. In recent years, the U.S. has seen a rise in the number of natural gas power plants as old coal and nuclear plants go offline or are retired. In return, natural gas pricing has become incredibly volatile, especially in winter and summer months when energy demand is higher, and suppliers have difficulty meeting demand.

In the summer, especially in a state like Massachusetts, demand for electricity spikes as people use more power to cool their homes and businesses. This jump in demand increases electric supply and delivery cost, as the power infrastructure is used more heavily and the power itself becomes more valuable in the market. Unpredictable rate hikes make it almost impossible to accurately budget for energy cost.

Luckily, there is a way to liberate your business or property from these electric rate hikes; investing in on-site distributed energy generation, such as a solar energy system allows property owners to achieve partial or total energy independence, leading to price stability, reduced energy costs, and participation in a green economy.

The best part is that as more people and businesses embrace energy independence by adopting solar power and other renewable energy sources, the entire market will see the effect; an increase in solar energy produced during peak periods, like a scorching hot summer day, equals decreased demand on the grid, and decreased demand on the grid means lower costs of energy during peak periods. The reality is that solar has the potential to bring the price of energy down for ratepayers across the board.

With widespread adoption of renewables, we can embrace freedom from fossil fuels and traditional carbon-based energy sources that produce greenhouse gases, improving both finances and quality of life for American residents and businesses alike.

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Solar Insight: A Q&A With Solar Customer James Clark

JLS Mailing Services

“Our project to “go solar” had a beginning, but it really hasn’t had an end. It only served to give us the launch point for finding more creative ways to save on power, reduce energy expenses, and to continue along the path towards complete energy independence for our company.”- James Clark, President, JLS Mailing Services

James Clark
James Clark, President, JLS Mailing

 

JLS Mailing Services is a 98-year old company that has emerged as New England’s premier provider of printing and mailing services for hundreds of the area’s top companies. Although the mail industry is declining due to the encroachment of electronic communications, there remains a core of consumer preference and regulatory reasons why mail is still a viable medium for communications. JLS Mailing Services’ challenge has been to retain their full current workforce and modest level of profitability by doing things smarter and more efficiently than any of their competitors.

JLS Mailing turned on their solar PV system in January 2016. Since then, the company has been reaping the economic and sustainable benefits of solar energy. We sat down with solar veteran and president of JLS Mailing Services, James Clark, to get his insight into the solar process.

Why did you make the decision to go solar?

We became interested in solar energy several years ago when we met with a consultant who spoke of the benefits we might achieve if we considered going solar.  We have always looked for ways to prudently manage our finite resources such as recycling our waste paper, toner cartridges and waste cardboard.   Last year we started to ask ourselves, “Can we do this as a giant leap to keep us ahead of our competition?” When we contacted Solect we immediately appreciated that we were dealing with experts who educated us on not only the benefit reducing our electric costs since we’re a big consumer of electricity, but also how to take advantage of the tax credits and the solar credits as well. We realized we had the perfect site for a roof-mounted PV solar system – a newer membrane, flat roof without obstructions. And we had a strong financial benefit model.

Why did you choose Solect as your solar partner?

While we liked Solect from the first meeting, in order to understand the industry better we invited two other solar companies to give us their proposals. Following these meetings, we decided to speak exclusively to Solect because they were highly credible, they had A-list referrals, and they were a local company. We have never regretted our choice; Solect has stood with us every step of the way and they have made sure to deliver everything that was set out in their original proposal and project plan.

How do your energy / operating costs from before you went solar compare to those after going solar?

The timing was right for us in many ways. First, as a corporation we had the appetite to take full advantage of the federal tax credits that were available. Next, we virtually eliminated our $90,000 annual electric bill. Today, after only several months of operation, we know that our system is generating electricity at 106% of expected production rates, so we should be receiving more than $150,000 in SREC II credits annually. Our first year avoided cost is $240,000.

What has been the best part of your solar experience?

One of the best aspects of going solar is the immediate positive reaction people have when they hear that we made the move. Everyone wants to know more – are we saving any money, how difficult was it, would we do it all over again? It’s in the forefront of everyone’s thinking and everyone’s curious about it. Not just customers, but other business owners and people that we meet socially.

Can you tell us a little bit about how going solar has changed your company from a business perspective?

Customers appreciate the “going green” story. That part is very, very clear. Our challenge has been how to leverage any associated premium attached to “green” or “solar” initiatives by purchasing agents and buyers.

Did going solar encourage you to pursue any other “green” initiatives?

Yes it did. One of our very smart managers located several grants that funded a complete change-out of our traditional style fluorescent tubes and lighting fixtures in our production areas for more highly efficient LED lighting. That move, combined with a grant to swap an energy draining compressor for a much more efficient model means that we have totally matched our prior electric consumption with electric savings and solar production.

We also installed a couple of EV car chargers at our facility, as several of our employees now drive electric vehicles. We are very conscious now of the need to stay abreast of new grants and initiatives that may come about at the state level. Our next effort is pointing towards installing storage battery back-ups when that technology matures rather than investing in replacing our natural gas emergency back-up generator when that time comes.

What advice do you have for business or property owners looking to go solar?

We would urge all business owners to become educated on what their specific solar opportunity might with their need to reduce operating expense. Don’t think you know enough alone – get the opinion of an expert in the industry. Solar is an emerging industry, and frankly not everyone in the solar industry will be looking out for your best interests. Find a company that has your interests at heart, and speak to them to find out if a solar solution could work for you.

What was the most difficult aspect of going solar, and how were you able to overcome it?

One difficult aspect we encountered was finding out that not all lenders fully understand solar initiatives and how to account for the cost savings and ROI associated with tax credits and SREC’s. We were fortunate to partner with a financial institution who knew the industry well.

Is there anything else about your “solar story” that you would like to share?

There’s been no down-side to our decision. The financial benefits have tracked exactly along the projections we established early on in our project. It did take us 14 months to move from start to the point where our system was initialized. That’s considerably more time that we expected at the outset. We even weathered a storm or two as State solar cap regulations changed part way through our implementation, but in the end, the installation has brought nothing but benefits to our business.

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A Deep Dive on C-PACE Solar Financing

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As solar energy experiences significant growth worldwide, new financing options continue to develop – some gaining more traction than others. One of the less-discussed financing solutions is PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) financing for solar energy systems. PACE and C-PACE (Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy) financing is a method of renewable energy financing which allows property owners to tie the cost of their system directly to the value of their property.

A commercial customer who elects C-PACE financing will receive financing from a government-sponsored bank to cover the up-front cost of installing a clean energy system on their property. The customer then pays back the loan over time, via the property tax bill the customer already receives. While the loan is outstanding, the lender (the local government) will place a lien on the property. This means that in the event of a foreclosure, the outstanding loan is repaid before any other claim is filed, and that the loan (and renewable energy system) is inexorably tied to the property itself. If the property owner who entered into the agreement with the local government sells the property, the tax assessment and ownership of the solar array stay with the property, and the new property owners take responsibility for the regular payments and assume ownership of the array.

Why Choose C-PACE?

C-PACE financing offers multiple benefits to customers looking to finance a solar array. First and foremost, the financing method allows a customer to take advantage of a solar solution without requiring a large, upfront capital payment. This lowers a significant barrier to entry in the solar market, and allows a larger portion of property owners to pursue a solar solution.

Additionally, by tying the solar or renewable energy loan to a piece of property itself, the solar customer is able to receive full financing for the project without taking up a personal bank loan, which keeps financing channels clear for other projects that cannot be financed in such alternative ways. This is especially beneficial to companies who may need to take out other loans to finance equipment or startup capital to fund the day-to-day operations of the business. Additionally, C-PACE financing does not factor customer credit quality into the issuance of a loan, enabling those with less than optimal credit to receive financing for a solar installation.

C-PACE programs have seen significant success nationwide in recent years. Rhode Island, in the process of bolstering its burgeoning solar industry, implemented a C-PACE program this spring. The program enables owners of eligible commercial buildings to finance up to 100% of various renewable energy and energy efficiency upgrades. Financing for the Rhode Island C-PACE program is offered by private capital providers, and payment terms are calculated based on useful life of the building improvements, which is generally 25 years.

Is C-PACE available in Massachusetts?

Massachusetts first implemented C-PACE enabling legislation in 2010.  The legislation allowed individual municipalities to create ordinances to enable their own PACE programs and energy efficiency revolving loan funds. The administrative burden on municipalities to underwrite and develop technical specifications for projects was prohibitive. The 2010 legislation also did not specify a source of external financing for the energy efficiency revolving loan funds, thus, not a single PACE loan was made under that .

A new C-PACE program for Massachusetts was proposed in 2014, and has been frequently debated but never passed. The new program would relieve some of the prohibitive burdens of the 2010 legislation, enabling Massachusetts property owners to take advantage of this program.

As solar energy gains continued popularity throughout the country, it is only fitting for the industry to include financing options suitable for more people and businesses to take advantage of the renewable technology. C-PACE financing does just that. We hope to see positive legislative action soon for the C-PACE program in Massachusetts, and hope that this growing solar financing option enables more property owners the option to go solar.

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What to Look for in a Solar Provider

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Solar is everywhere these days. And with the increased demand for solar installations, a person or business looking to go solar is faced with seemingly endless options when choosing a solar provider. So how do you decide which company to go with? Though we may be a little biased, we have put together a list of qualities and offerings to look for in a solar provider, to ensure your solar installation will be the most positive experience.

A long-term partner.

Solar PV is a long-term investment. Modern systems have a lifespan of 25 years or more, and as a complex technology, a solar PV system is not something you should “set and forget”. When considering a solar provider, look for a company who will be there for you in the long run. A company who can answer your questions and service your array in year 1 and year 21. Maintaining a lasting relationship with a solar company ensures more consistent service, better system optimization, and ultimately a more productive solar array – all of which contribute to the best possible return on your solar investment.

An experienced developer.

Solar arrays are complex electrical systems. Their construction requires experience, finesse, and technical excellence. When choosing between solar developers, consider each developer’s level of experience. A veteran developer is not only more comfortable with technical solar construction, it is also more familiar with the nuances of the entire solar process. In an industry as regulated as the solar industry, a developer must consider timelines, permitting and applications, environmental impact studies, financing, weather, and more. While experience level should not be the only factor by which you judge your solar provider options, it’s practical to choose a company who has gone through the process time and time again, who owns projects themselves and knows the process of ownership firsthand, and can be there to answer your questions every step of the way.

A full-service company.

Simplicity solves a lot of problems, and this is certainly the case in the solar industry. If you have the option to have one solar provider take your project from origination through installation and management, it will make your solar experience more streamlined and stress-free. Instead of going to one company for initial development assessment and design, one for financing, another for installation, and still another for post-construction management and maintenance, try to find a company that offers a suite of services and has the experience to guide you through each of these steps. You will establish a robust relationship with a single company, instead of multiple fragmented relationships with a series of companies. This will help ensure all aspects of your solar installation will work cooperatively and prevent important details from falling through the cracks due to inconsistencies.

A local company.

Even though solar is being widely adopted throughout the country, location is a big factor in the construction of a solar array. Due to vastly differing policies and regulations determined by individual states, a solar installation in California requires different permitting, financing, and construction processes than the same array in Massachusetts. Additionally, diverse areas of the country experience widely different weather patterns, which impact solar production and ultimately impact system design. It is important that your solar provider be intimately familiar with the local area in order to design effectively and ensure maximum efficiency and regulatory compliance. Additionally, a successful solar provider will be active in shaping and understanding local energy policies, in order to best represent its customers’ best interests and be able to explain the complex solar policies and incentive programs to those considering a solar installation.

An active community contributor.

Finally, when selecting your solar provider, consider the company’s involvement in the community. Such involvement shows dedication to improving and participating in the region in which a company operates. A company who cares about its community is a company that cares about people in general. There is more to a solar company than building megawatts; it is important to select a solar provider dedicated to building relationships as well – with customers and the community it in which it operates.

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