Sol Systems’ Solar Project Finance Journal is a monthly email newsletter that our project finance team distributes to our network of clients and solar stakeholders. Our newsletter contains solar statistics from current real-life solar projects, trends, and observations gained through monthly interviews with our solar project finance team, and it incorporates news from a variety of industry resources. Below, we have included excerpts from the March 2015 edition.  To receive future Journals, please email pr@solsystems.com.

PROJECT FINANCE STATISTICS

The following statistics represent some high-quality solar projects and portfolios that we are actively reviewing for investment.

Capacity: 100kW – 17MW
Average Capacity: 3.11MW

Developer all-in (asking) prices*

  • <500kW:  $1.85 – 3.90/Watt
  • 500kW–2MW:  $1.72 – 4.24/Watt
  • >2MW:  $1.75 – 3.35/Watt

*Our all-in price statistics exclude projects from Ontario, Hawaii, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico where all-in prices remain over $3.50/W.

PPA rates & escalators (20-year terms unless noted) **

  • CA:  8 – 17 cents/kWh with escalators between 1.5-3%
  • CT: 8 – 13.5 cents/kWh with 2% escalator
  • DC:  5 – 7.5 cents/kWh with 2% escalator
  • HI: 17 – 27 cents/kWh with 0-2% escalator
  • MA:  5.9 – 13.5 cents/kWh with 2% escalator
  • MD: 6.5 – 9.5 cents/kWh with 2% escalator
  • NC: 6.5 – 7.2 cents/kWh with no escalator, 15-year term
  • NJ: 5 – 12 cents/kWh with 2% escalator
  • NY: 6.5 – 16.5 cents/kWh with 2% escalator

**With the exception of California, projects rely upon additional state incentives, grants, or an SREC/ZREC contract.

Recent Feed-in Tariff Rates (20-year terms unless noted)*

  • CA: 14 cents/kWh with no escalator (LADWP)
  • GA:
    • 8-9 cents/kWh with no escalator (Georgia Power)
    • 13 cents/kWh with no escalator (Georgia Power)
  • IN: 20 cents/kWh for 15 years with no escalator (IP&L)
  • RI: 18.5 cents/kWh with no escalator (National Grid)

*Please note that these statistics are representative of projects we are reviewing for investment. This is not an all-encompassing list of all feed-in tariffs in the market, and some of these programs have since closed.

STATE MARKETS

California:  Demand charges have discouraged the development of commercial and industrial (C&I) solar projects in the Golden State. However, we expect this to change in Southern California Edison (SCE) territory as developers begin to take advantage of Option R. In contrast to most commercial rates employed over the past few years, Option R features more emphasis on energy charges and relies less on demand charges to calculate energy bills. Through Option R’s Time of Use (TOU) rate, developers have a better shot at pitching the ROI of solar to hosts. We expect to see a gold rush in SCE territory as developers hurry to find opportunities to fill SCE’s 400MW cap [which was lifted from 150MW earlier this year].

In related California news, rumor has it that the solar industry’s premier solar finance and investment shop will be hosting a rockin’ party in San Francisco next week.

Massachusetts: High SREC prices are putting the “wealth” into the Commonwealth’s solar market, and developers from across the country are flocking East in search of opportunity. With the overabundance of potential projects emerging, it can be challenging to discern the real deals from the not-so-real. Often, we hear from developers about projects that have site control but no off-takers, or that they have secured an off-taker, but lack site control. Let the matchmaking begin!  Meanwhile, property owners are starting to get savvy – and maybe even a bit opportunistic – about turning their buildings into a possible revenue stream with a site lease. If they attempt to overcharge, be ready to negotiate, or prepare to bake an extra $30k+ into your PPA price annually to make up for these high lease payments.

Oregon: When people think of Oregon, they think of rainy Portland, when in fact, most of the solar potential in the Beaver State falls in the southern and eastern regions of the state. These regions have high solar irradiance; the only problem is that low population density makes host sites few and far between. If you can find a host site, these projects look great – especially with a qualifying facility (QF) contract (learn more about these below). And because of curtailment issues, the further they are from wind and hydro resources, the better.

SOLAR CHATTER

  • The solicitation for Connecticut’s small ZREC program closed last week. Rumor has it that Connecticut Light & Power (CL&P) and United Illuminating (UI) received fewer applications than in previous years.
  • Tremendous snowfall on the East Coast has led to underperformance for many solar assets. Our advice? Monitor the weather and performance of the plant; make educated decisions to clear snow and perform system inspections; the sunk costs of truck rolls will pay for themselves through optimized production. Operators should stay conscious of heavy snow events that may impact the structural stability of systems as well, since large accumulation can potentially impact the modules and racking due to weight concerns.
  • Tax equity, unsurprisingly, remains one of the biggest pitfalls for international developers looking to expand to the U.S. Choose an experienced tax equity partner, select an experienced market-standard deal team (legal counsel, accountants, appraiser, and independent engineer), and invest in getting your internal team up to speed on the latest tax equity structures and trends. Understanding the intricacies of these deals early saves time and avoids costly confusion later.
  • PNC Financial, the nation’s seventh-largest bank, announced that it will no longer extend credit to individual mountaintop removal projects or to coal producers with 25 percent or more of their production coming from the destructive practice. Well done, PNC.
  • For developers looking to attract new capital relationships, back-office capabilities and execution record are just as important as your portfolio of assets. Invest in an experienced back-office team to handle your accounting and financial reporting obligations, and make sure your asset managers understand the financial performance of a deal as well as technical performance and O&M.

About Sol Systems

Sol Systems is a solar energy finance and investment firm. The company has facilitated financing for 180MW solar projects on behalf of Fortune 100 corporations, insurance companies, utilities, banks, family offices, and individuals. Sol Systems provides secure, sustainable investment opportunities to investor clients, and sophisticated project financing solutions to developers. The company’s tailored financial services range from tax structured investments and project acquisition, to debt financing and SREC portfolio management. Inc. Magazine named Sol Systems on its annual Inc. 500 list of the nation’s fastest-growing private companies for a second consecutive year, ranking it No. 6 in the nation’s top solar companies in 2014. For more information, please visit www.solsystems.com.

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