Three Solar Financing Solutions to Revolutionize your Small Business

Solar Financing

By now, you probably know of at least one local business that has gone solar. Maybe you’re even wondering “How did they pay for that?” Like other investments, solar systems do sometimes have upfront costs, which can be difficult to fit into a business’s budget. However, with today’s state and federal incentives, coupled with some creative lending options, the return on investment (ROI) of a solar system can often be recouped in the first few years of ownership – a real boon, because the lifespan of solar PV systems is usually around 25 years.  And currently, these incentives are particularly favorable for smaller businesses.

Let’s look at some of the ways small commercial solar PV systems are being financed in Massachusetts:

  1. Business or property owner purchases the solar PV system outright using capital funds or a capital loan. Capital funds refers to money that the business has set aside for the purchase of capital/fixed assets, such as land, buildings or manufacturing equipment. As an investment in infrastructure, solar is a capital expenditure and funds set aside for this purpose can be used for the installation of solar PV systems. 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.
  1. Business or property owner finances the system with an operating lease. An operating lease offers a solar financing solution to those small businesses unable to fully utilize tax benefits, but want to enjoy the other financial benefits of a solar array. An operating lease requires very low or zero upfront cost, and keeps cash flow liquid, enabling a small business to keep capital for other purposes. Some banks are able to monetize federal and state tax incentives, and use those incentives to provide a lower overall system cost and lease payments. Solar operating lease terms are also typically shorter than the useful life of the solar array; at the end of the lease term, the lessee is able to purchase the system or extend the lease.
  1. Business or property owner finances the system via a capital lease. A solar capital lease enables a small business to fully finance their system with zero capital outlay as an alternative to purchasing the system through a bank loan or cash. The lessor finances the leased asset, but ownership and responsibility for the system remains with the business. At the end of the lease term, the lessee may choose to purchase the asset outright for $1.

An experienced solar developer can walk you through all the options when it comes to financing, and conduct a feasibility assessment to help you discover if an investment in solar is right for your business.

Solar Financing for Small Commercial

Scituate, Plymouth Fitness Centers Partner with Solect Energy Development & Green Seal Environmental, Inc. to Go Green with Solar

SCITUATE, MA – January 14, 2014 – The South Shore of Massachusetts becomes a little greener thanks to two new Solect solar PV (photovoltaic) systems installed on the rooftops of the Scituate Racquet & Fitness Club in Scituate and the Village Racquet & Fitness Club in Plymouth. The clubs partnered with Solect Energy Development of Hopkinton, MA, and Green Seal Environmental, Inc. of Sagamore Beach, MA, to develop and install two 99 kW systems–and are expected to each trim their electricity bills by more than 25 percent.

The facilities, each about 42,000 square feet, house tennis courts, indoor pools and fitness areas as well as locker rooms, childcare facilities, a café and a pro shop. The projects were completed under a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), in which Green Seal Environmental, a company that invests in green energy projects, owns the systems and sells the electricity back to the clubs at a reduced rate.

“Ever since I worked on a solar project in high school I’ve always been fascinated by solar energy,” said Chris Horne, owner of both clubs. “We had the roof space available and decided it was a win-win situation to partner with Solect and Green Seal to develop this project.”

For its part, Green Seal is able to take advantage of attractive state and federal tax incentives, including SRECs (Solar Renewable Energy Certificates), which solar system owners earn based on the amount of solar energy their system generates. SRECs are ultimately purchased by electrical utility providers in Massachusetts to help meet their state-mandated goals of a percentage of power coming from renewable energy sources.

“Green Seal continues to look for good opportunities to invest in renewable energy projects, and the solar systems at the Scituate and Plymouth clubs were a perfect fit,” said Greg Wirsen Executive Vice President of Green Seal Environmental. “It was a pleasure to work on these projects with the clubs and Solect Energy Development.”

“These projects are special because each group is able to continue to focus on their area of expertise,” said Scott Howe, Partner at Solect. “The clubs can keep their focus on running their operations, while Green Seal can manage the financial aspect of the arrangement. Partnerships like these are a real positive for the future of the solar industry in Massachusetts.”

About Green Seal Environmental

Green Seal Environmental (GSE), Inc. is full services environmental engineering consulting firm based in Sagamore Beach, MA. Our current services offered are vast, including hazardous materials, waste management, transportation and disposal services, survey, civil and site engineering, construction administration, as well as solar construction support services for all phases of a solar and biomass energy development projects. Our success is the result of innovative engineering designs, integrated with sensitivity to economic considerations. Attention to detail and adherence to sound engineering principles are cornerstones of our organization. We are registered with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as a corporation and are licensed to practice engineering. To learn more about us, please visit www.gseenv.com

Stonehill College Takes Campus Solar Plan to New Heights with Solect Energy Development

North Easton, MA January 06, 2014 — Stonehill College, a private, four-year liberal arts college located in southeastern Massachusetts, is deploying one of the largest solar installations on a college campus in New England: a 2.7 megawatt (MW) pole-mounted solar array that will cover 20 percent of the college’s electricity use. The solar array – phase 1 of a plan that will ultimately include rooftop installations across campus and other potential projects – is being completed in partnership with solar project developer Solect Energy Development of Hopkinton, MA, Stonehill’s energy consultant Power Management Company New England, LLC, and financing partner Marina Energy LLC, a subsidiary of South Jersey Industries.

The solar array – which encompasses 15 acres on the Davis Ames Clock Farm land adjacent to the campus – is a major part of the college’s “Stonehill Goes Green” sustainability initiatives. These include single-stream recycling, composting, retrofitting buildings with motion sensors and energy-efficient lighting, water conservation efforts, and Freshmen Green Kits that encourage incoming students to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle.

Stonehill College Solar Field
Photo credit: Nicki Pardo Photography

“The solar field is an extension of Stonehill’s Catholic commitment to care for creation and sustainability. It gives further indication of our commitment, on every level, to preserving the resources that are in our care for future generations,” said Rev. James Lies, C.S.C., Stonehill’s vice president for mission.

Stonehill was able to take on such a large-scale project by entering a 15-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Marina Energy LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of South Jersey Industries that develops, owns and operates on-site energy projects. As part of the PPA, Marina leases the 15-acre property from Stonehill, but owns the solar photovoltaic (PV) system. Marina is able to benefit from federal tax incentives equating to 30 percent of the project cost, and from the sale of Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs) based on the volume of electricity the solar array produces. Marina will sell 100 percent of the power from the array to the school at a reduced rate. This “behind the meter” usage is expected to help the college save an estimated $3.2 million in electricity costs over the course of the 15-year agreement.

“As we await the implementation of SREC II regulations, we are very excited to begin this project with Stonehill College,” said Steve Poniatowicz, senior vice president & chief operating officer of Marina Energy. “We have twice participated in the Massachusetts SREC I program with great success and regard the state as a forward-thinking leader in the renewable energy movement. The attributes shared with New Jersey’s solar program leaves us confident in this partnership of financial savings, improved efficiency, and increased green sector jobs.”

“It has been a pleasure working with Stonehill, Power Management and Marina Energy on a project of this magnitude,” said Scott Howe, Partner at Solect Energy Development. “Stonehill is establishing itself as a shining example of how a college can reap the benefits of making a huge commitment to sustainability by using renewable solar energy to power its campus.”

To learn more about the Stonehill College Solar Field, visit http://www.stonehill.edu/solar.

About Stonehill:

Stonehill is a selective Catholic college located near Boston on a beautiful 384-acre campus in Easton, Massachusetts. With a student-faculty ratio of 13:1, the College engages over 2,500 students in 80+ rigorous academic programs in the liberal arts, sciences, and pre-professional fields. The Stonehill community helps students to develop the knowledge, skills, and character to meet their professional goals and to live lives of purpose and integrity.

About Marina Energy:

Marina is a wholly owned subsidiary of South Jersey Industries that develops, owns and operates on-site energy projects that include district heating and cooling, combined heat and power, solar and landfill gas-to-electric. Marina, currently expanding into the Massachusetts solar market, has gained significant project experience through partnering with higher education institutions within the state of New Jersey. The company’s relationships with The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, Atlantic Cape Community College, and Montclair State University have been essential to its endeavors. Marina is looking forward to expanding this relationship with similar customers in Massachusetts.

Herb Connolly Chevrolet Deepens Commitment to Green Energy with Solect Solar Carport Project

FRAMINGHAM, MA – December 4, 2013 – The Herb Connolly Auto Group, a Boston MetroWest Acura, Chevrolet and Hyundai auto dealer, has increased its commitment to renewable energy, working with Solect Energy Development of Hopkinton to install a new 40 kW solar PV (photovoltaic) system on the canopy roof of its new 16-space carport located at its Chevrolet dealership on Route 9 in Framingham. The carport houses charging stations for the dealership’s fast-selling Chevy Volt electric vehicles.

The carport project is part of Herb Connolly’s ongoing commitment to solar – the company earlier this fall worked with Solect to install a 200 kW solar photovoltaic (PV) renewable energy system on the roof of its Acura and Hyundai dealerships, and a 185 kW system on the roof of its Chevrolet dealership. These projects are expected to help the company trim its electric bills by more than 50 percent annually.

“The Chevy Volt continues to be one of our fastest-selling models, and this project helps us demonstrate to our customers and to the community our total commitment to renewable energy and the environment,” said Adam Connolly, co-owner at Herb Connolly Auto Group. “Solect understood our vision for these projects and helped us implement them quickly and effectively.”

In addition to the “green” aspects of its solar projects, Herb Connolly was also able to take advantage of attractive state and federal tax incentives that help make renewable energy projects affordable for businesses. These include SRECs (Solar Renewable Energy Certificates), which solar system owners earn based on the amount of energy they generate via solar. SRECs are ultimately purchased by electrical utility providers in Massachusetts to help meet their state-mandated goals of a percentage of power coming from renewable energy sources. This is a good revenue stream for those property owners who choose solar solutions. The savings that Herb Connolly generates through its new solar systems, along with the revenue generated through SRECs, made deploying solar a win-win situation.

“It was a pleasure to work with Herb Connolly Auto Group to add the carport system into their overall solar program,” said Alex Keally, business development partner at Solect. “Their focus throughout the process has been on reducing the company’s carbon footprint. Because of that, they are able to reduce their overall energy costs by more than 50 percent and, through SRECs, add to their bottom line as well.”

Herb Connolly Greens Acura, Chevy, Hyundai Dealerships with Solar from Solect

FRAMINGHAM, MA – November 6, 2013 – The Herb Connolly Auto Group, a Boston MetroWest Acura, Chevrolet and Hyundai auto dealer, has partnered with Hopkinton-based Solect Energy Development to install new solar photovoltaic (PV) renewable energy systems on the roofs of its Framingham-based dealerships on Route 9.

Solect installed a 200 kW solar photovoltaic (PV) renewable energy system on the roof of its Framingham-based Acura and Hyundai dealerships, and a 185 kW system on the roof of its Chevrolet dealership. The projects are expected to help the company trim its electric bills by more than 50%. The systems will offset 333 tons of CO2 annually and generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of 38 homes.

Herb Connolly worked the solar project into its plans to renovate the building that houses its Acura dealership, but “going solar” has long been in the works for the company, said Adam Connolly, co-owner at Herb Connolly Auto Group. “We’d been thinking about solar for quite some time, and with the renovations to the Acura building, the time was right to look at it more seriously,” Connolly said. “We chose Solect because their commitment to excellence matches our own. They brought a high level of experience and knowledge to every phase of the project.”

Herb Connolly was able to take advantage of attractive state and federal tax incentives that help make renewable energy projects affordable for building owners. These include SRECs (Solar Renewable Energy Certificates), which are earned by solar system owners based on the amount of energy they generate via solar. SRECs are ultimately purchased by electrical utility providers in Massachusetts to help meet their state-mandated goals of a percentage of power coming from renewable energy sources. This is a good revenue stream for those property owners who choose solar solutions. The company’s savings generated via the solar PV solution, along with the revenue generated through SRECs, made deploying solar a win-win situation.

Herb Connolly is already planning to expand its solar commitment and is going through the permitting processes with the town to install a 40 kW solar system on a 16-space carport located at its Chevrolet dealership that will house charging stations for fast-selling Chevy Volt electric vehicles. The EV/PV carport, designed and fabricated by Solaire Generation, will generate an additional 45,000 kilowatt hours of clean electricity per year, protect customers and vehicles from the elements and serve as a highly visible testament to Herb Connolly’s sustainability initiatives.

“Herb Connolly is known for its commitment to the community and the environment, and was very proactive in looking at how renewable energy solutions like solar can impact their business and their bottom line,” said Alex Keally, business development partner at Solect. “It has been a pleasure working with them on this project.”

Harwood Engineering Brings Electricity Bills to Zero with Solar from Solect

WALPOLE, MA – November 05, 2013 –Harwood Engineering Company, a global engineering firm that develops and manufactures products that serve the high pressure industry, has partnered with Hopkinton-based Solect Energy Development to install a solar photovoltaic (PV) renewable energy system on the roof of its Walpole headquarters.

The 56 kW system, comprised of 190 panels attached to the metal roof portion of Harwood Engineering’s 15,000-square-foot facility, is expected to cover 100% of the company’s electricity use. The company has a significant monthly electric bill for its operations, which include usage from office equipment, heating, cooling, lighting, as well as the company’s engineering department and on-site machine shop in which its prototypes are designed and manufactured.

“We were not actively pursuing a solar solution until we spoke with Solect and they spelled out all of the benefits, both financial and environmental,” said Bill Newhall, president of Harwood Engineering. “Solect provided the level of expertise we needed for such a project, and were really cooperative and helpful in answering every question we had along the way.”

Harwood Engineering was able to take advantage of attractive state and federal tax incentives that help make renewable energy projects affordable for building owners. These include SRECs (Solar Renewable Energy Certificates), which are earned by solar system owners based on the amount of energy they generate via solar. SRECs are ultimately purchased by electrical utility providers in Massachusetts to help meet their state-mandated goals of a percentage of power coming from renewable energy sources. This is a good revenue stream for those property owners who choose solar solutions. The company’s savings generated via the solar PV solution, along with the revenue generated through SRECs, made deploying solar a win-win situation for Harwood Engineering.

“Harwood Engineering was able to see the benefits of incorporating a renewable solar energy solution into its business plans right away,” said Steve Bianchi, business development partner at Solect. “Solar not only made sense from a financial perspective, but also from a green one, and Harwood Engineering’s electricity bills will be virtually zero for the life of the system.”

Solect Energy Development Donates Solar Energy System to Michael Lisnow Respite Center

HOPKINTON, MA – November 04, 2013 – Solect Energy Development, a leading commercial solar PV (photovoltaic) project developer serving the New England area, has donated an 11.75 kW solar PV renewable energy system to the Michael Lisnow Respite Center in Hopkinton, MA. The 50-panel system is expected to offset up to 30% of the center’s electricity costs each month.

“The Respite Center is such an integral part of our community, and its staff and members do so much to support not only the Town of Hopkinton, but also the greater Boston community,” said Ken Driscoll, principal at Solect. “We felt this project was a great way to help them reduce their costs and redirect the funds they would be spending on operational costs such as electricity to better support their amazing programs.”

Residents at the Respite Center Celebrate the Newly Donated Solect Solar System
Residents at the Respite Center Celebrate the Newly Donated Solect Solar System

The Respite Center, which supports individuals with disabilities and their families, relies heavily on donations to serve its clients. Electricity costs – especially heating and cooling the building and running computers, appliances and medical equipment — are a huge part of running the center. The center loved the prospect of using a renewable energy resource to lower its bills and spread a green message, but as a non-profit was ineligible for many of the financial benefits that make solar so attractive for many businesses.

“Our electricity bills can be very high, and the donation of the solar system from Solect will really make a difference in our costs to run the center,” said Sharon Lisnow, co-founder of the Michael Lisnow Respite Center. “This generous gift will be felt over and over each month when we receive our electric bill.”

The Respite Center uses about 51,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per year, and the system will produce about 15,000 to 16,000 kilowatt hours per year. The system is expected to save the Respite Center more than $2,500 in annual electricity costs. Solect has also committed to monitoring and maintaining the system for the Respite Center.