This Just In – Section 1603 Extended!

30% Cash Grant program to continue into 2011

In December 2010, Congress moved to extend the Department of Treasury’s Section 1603 program. Due in part to the lobbying efforts of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) – the extension of the 1603 Treasury Program will continue to provide commercial solar investors a cash grant in lieu of the 30 % solar investment tax credit (ITC) created by the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

The 1603 Treasury Program – created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 – included modifications to the ITC and other renewable energy tax incentives to address the lack of available tax equity financing.

The goals of the program were to streamline the financing of renewable energy projects and to provide access to funds when project developers’ tax burdens were insufficient to take advantage of the tax incentives and financing was hard to obtain and expensive. The program helped the renewable energy industry recover in 2009 when the lack of tax equity financing in late 2008 brought many projects to a halt.

Solar energy continues to be on the rise in the U.S. and quickly becoming one of the economy’s fastest growing sectors. Between the decrease in costs of solar panels and incentives such as the 1603 Treasury Program, we expect to see significant growth within the commercial space – specifically within the mid-market segment.

Solect Teams with Honey Hill Farms – Hopkinton School Admin Benefits

HOPKINTON, MA – Solect Energy Development, LLC, has partnered with Honey Hill Farms, an office and storage facility in Hopkinton, MA, to provide renewable solar power to Honey Hill Farms and its tenants, the largest of which is the Town of Hopkinton School Administration department. The 30-kilowatt PV (photovoltaic) system will go live in January 2011.

In considering solar, the owner of Honey Hill Farms was interested in finding ways to add a diverse revenue stream to his business, as well as enhance the overall value of the property, which contains 15,000-square feet of office and storage space.

Discussions with the school department uncovered an interest in lowering electricity bills as well as continuing to help the environment by growing its use of sustainable energy. Hopkinton’s high school. middle school, police department and fire department deployed a large-scale solar system in 2009, becoming the first town in Massachusetts to install solar panels on multiple municipal buildings.

“The Honey Hill Farms deployment allowed us to help meet the objectives of two groups: the property owner and their main tenant,” said Jim Dumas, principal at Solect Energy Development, LLC. “The school department benefits from a discounted electric rate, and 100% of their usage is offset by this new solar system. Honey Hill Farms benefits from new monthly revenue streams, and attractive state and federal incentives. All in all, the financial and green benefits were compelling to both owner and tenant.”

Honey Hill Farms owns the system and uses “Net Metering” to provide a discount on the electricity bill to the Hopkinton School Administration department. Net Metering enables customers to use their own generation from on-site renewable energy systems to offset their consumption over a billing period. When they generate electricity in excess of their demand, customers can receive credit for the excess energy, and can choose to pass that savings along to their tenants.

Massachusetts Moves to Open an SREC Market

The Massachusetts RPS Solar Carve-Out program is one of the most innovative performance-based incentives in the country, and might one day serve as a model for similar programs in other states.

In late 2009, the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) approved a Solar Renewable Energy Certificate (SREC) market to begin in 2010. The state’s solar carve-out program establishes a requirement for the purchase of SRECs in Massachusetts. The Carve-Out program has a minimum requirement of 25 MW (Megawatts) of solar electricity for 2010 and a solar alternative compliance payment (SACP) of $600.

SRECs are a tradable, non-tangible energy commodity in the United States that represent proof that one thousand (1,000) kilowatt hours (kWh’s) of electricity was generated from an eligible renewable energy resource. SRECS are sold separately from electricity and the solar power generated does not need to be used on site for the SREC to be created.

The Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) – created in 1997 via the State’s restructuring legislation and formally adopted by the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) in 2002– provides a means for SRECs to be created on behalf of solar energy system owners and sold to Massachusetts electric suppliers to meet the solar RPS requirement. Electricity suppliers must either buy SRECs to meet the Massachusetts RPS requirement or pay a Solar Alternative Compliance Payment (SACP) of $600 per 1,000 kWh’s if they do not comply. Guided by “free market” forces these companies will pay up to the current SACP for each SREC.

The RPS Solar Carve-Out program, couple with the Federal 30% Investment Tax Credit/Grant Program provides additional incentives for Massachusetts-based organizations and residences to invest in solar solutions.

Solect Energy Development Launched to Provide Solar Solutions to Commercial Property Owners in New England

Local company provides deep expertise in all aspects of deploying solar PV solutions

HOPKINTON, MA – A new company has launched to help commercial property owners throughout New England assess, develop and manage renewable solar energy solutions. Solect Energy Development, LLC, based in Hopkinton, MA, is a local Massachusetts company with deep knowledge and experience in the financial, regulatory, design and maintenance issues surrounding the deployment of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. Its three principals – Ken Driscoll, James Dumas, and Craig Huntley — are longtime Hopkinton residents with backgrounds in business management, sales and legal.

“Solect was formed because there’s a real need for a local company that understands the entire end-to-end process of making the decision to go solar in Massachusetts and the greater New England area,” said Driscoll. “Solect’s deep expertise in feasibility assessments, financial modeling, regulatory issues, design and engineering, installation, and maintenance will help make the decision an easy one for commercial property owners, municipalities, non-profits and other organizations.”

“Many businesses love the idea of ‘going green’, but not many understand the real financial benefits of deploying solar energy solutions,” said Dumas. “The State of Massachusetts and the federal government have put forth very compelling financial incentives for property owners to consider solar as a renewable energy solution and Solect has the expertise to manage this process from start to finish.”

“Solect’s ability to help a customer through each step of the solar process – from assessing their solar viability to installation and maintenance — is bar none,” said Huntley. “There is a great opportunity for solar in Massachusetts and Solect is primed to help property owners take advantage of that opportunity.”