California's commercial market: the next gold rush, without the bust.

California’s commercial market: the next gold rush, without the bust.

The commercial and small utility solar market in California reminds us of 1848, just a year before the gold rush: lucrative, and largely untapped. While the state boasts the largest commercial solar market in the union, it remains relatively small.

The latest Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Greentech Media Solar Market Insight report revealed that both 2014 and 2013 saw a smaller yearly increase in added commercial capacity than in 2012. Last year, 306.6MW came online in California’s commercial market – just a 4.75% yearly increase over 2013, and a .2% decrease compared to 2012.

This is where we see the opportunity. Over the next several years, we expect growth in a solar market galvanized by standardized financing solutions such as PACE, California Solar Incentive (CSI) and Option R in Southern California Edison (SCE) and San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E) utility territories, and the California Public Utility Commission’s (CPUC) approval of rate and time-of-use charges.

To capitalize on this momentum,  Sol Systems hit the Golden State last week in a week-long frenzy that included a major conference, dozens of meetings, an unforgettable road trip, and of course, a party.

The blitz began in San Diego at Infocast’s annual Solar Power Finance and Investment Summit. Kicking it off, Colin Murchie led the pre-summit workshop’s opening session. Highlights included guidance on long- term project finance strategy and tax equity structures.

The next series of pre-summit sessions were worth their weight in gold for some newer players in the game, and Yuri Horwitz carried Sol Systems’ torch in a series of educational sessions. The marathon covered everything from an overview of determining the economic viability of projects to a look at how underwriters examine transactions.

Expert analysis continued during a sprint covering the Northeast market, where Jason Cimpl shared intel on the hottest solar markets and insight into where the next best investment opportunities lie. One takeaway: if you can find an off-taker, Massachusetts continues to be an exciting place for solar developers.

In a not-so-sunny outlook of a post 30% investment tax credit (ITC) world, George Ashton joined other major firms, including Bank of America and CohnReznick, in a discussion on the impact that an ITC step-down will have on financing. Key points in this familiar debate were higher interest rates and the impact on PPA prices.

In addition to our expert speakers, Sol Systems’ tax equity, asset management, IMA, project finance, and SREC teams had jam-packed schedules at the Summit, which are already proving favorable to our ever-growing pipeline.

Sol Systems' project finance team enjoyed the scenic view and sunshine on the Pacific Coastal Highway

Sol Systems’ project finance team enjoyed the scenic view and sunshine on the Pacific Coastal Highway

Sol Systems’ project finance team continued the relay up the West Coast with a road trip along the Pacific Coastal Highway. In between scenic views of Big Sur and a quick spin on a Solar Coaster, the team managed to squeeze in several fruitful meetings with California-based developers.

The finish line was the official launch party of Sol Systems’ San Francisco office. We were honored that so many friends, new and old, joined us in a cheers to our California expansion. As a small gesture of our commitment to giving back to our community, the party also served as a springboard for the San Francisco chapter of our Giving That Matters program. A donation went to the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, and our Bay Area friends are invited to join us for a volunteer day on April 29. Email Jessica Cowan for details.

To join the growing ranks of our West Coast team, or to learn more about financing for your California solar projects, contact finance@solsystems.com.

ABOUT SOL SYSTEMS

Sol Systems is a solar energy finance and investment firm. The company has facilitated financing for 180MW of distributed generation 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. For more information, please visit www.solsystems.com.