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The 7-Year Sol-iversary

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The Sol team celebrates its 7-year anniversary on the Chesapeake Bay

One evening at a party in 2008, Yuri Horwitz and his college track teammate, George Ashton, became immersed in a deep conversation about the inefficiencies in environmental and carbon markets. Several follow-on conversations turned to action as the two began working nights and weekends to build out a vision and viable business plan to make an impact.

Then, in May 2008, Yuri and George launched Sol Systems as a solar renewable energy credit (SREC) aggregator and market maker. Sol Systems’ headquarters were based in Yuri’s kitchen, where he made lunch for the firm’s first full-time employees each day.

Fast forward to May 2015, and Sol Systems has rocketed from a two-person SREC shop to a 50-person, full-service solar finance and investment firm paving the way for the industry’s commercial and small utility-scale sector. Today, the firm has offices in D.C., San Francisco, and Philadelphia, and has financed 200MW of clean, solar energy through a combination of project acquisitions, tax structured investments, debt, and SRECs.

The Sol team had much to celebrate and plan during our 7th anniversary this week. All 50 employees from across the country converged in Annapolis to celebrate the company’s seven-year journey, and plan for the next seven.

On Wednesday, May 13, the Sol Systems team kicked off the birthday at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to saving the Chesapeake Bay. The team toured their headquarters, the Philip Merrill Environmental Center, a LEED platinum building. After lunch on the shore of the Bay, the Sol team headed to the marina for a sailing trip and birthday cake. As the voyage reached its midway point, Yuri and George shared inspiring words with the team, reflecting on the team’s journey and vision for the future.

Check out the evolution of the Sol Systems team throughout the years through these pictures.

ABOUT SOL SYSTEMS

Sol Systems is a solar energy finance and investment firm. The company has facilitated financing for 200MW 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.

Giving That Matters: Prime Time with Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy

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With some beautiful weather and a lot of teamwork, the team helped with grounds maintenance, including the scraping, priming, and repainting of eight picnic tables.

Last week, Sol Systems West volunteered with the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy (GGNPC), a nonprofit organization dedicated to the stewardship and conservation of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The Sol West team, along with CEO Yuri Horwitz, spent the morning in Crissy Field in San Francisco working on grounds and historic site maintenance. The nonprofit relies on volunteers to keep these popular public spaces well maintained for local and worldwide visitors to use and enjoy.  Sol Systems accompanied the effort with a donation.

“After a quick instruction from our group coordinator, we picked out our tools and put on bright green vests,” said Jessica Cowan, office manager for the Sol West team. “It was hard work, but it was a cool experience and fun to tackle as a team.”

Volunteering with GGNPC – and other community organizations – is essential to Sol Systems’ corporate culture, and its Giving that Matters program. We are relentless in our commitment to organizations that improve the environment, social equity, and the communities in which we live and work.

ABOUT SOL SYSTEMS

Sol Systems is a solar energy finance and investment firm. The company has facilitated financing for 200MW 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

SunFarmer: Powering Nepal’s Recovery

On April 25, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Nepal. Most rural health clinics were completely destroyed, and emergency teams are currently working out of makeshift structures without electricity; there is no power available to charge cell phones, let alone to treat patients.

In the aftermath, SunFarmer, a non-profit that has been focused on solar installations in Nepal for the last two years, is stepping up to the effort and providing electrical and solar water purification systems to hospitals,  health clinics, and shelters.

SunFarmer needs your help to power Nepal’s recovery.  Donate to their Earthquake Relief Fund today.

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This cause is important to the Sol Systems team. Joe Song, Senior Director, is on the advisory board of SunFarmer, where he advises on the technical specifications of the non-profit’s solar installations. In 2013, Mr. Song visited Nepal with SunFarmer to vet solar installer partners and developers, recruit team members, investigate the local solar market, and visit hospitals. SunFarmer is a beneficiary of Sol Systems’ Giving that Matters program.

For more information on SunFarmer, visit www.sunfarmer.org.

ABOUT SOL SYSTEMS

Sol Systems is a solar energy finance and investment firm. The company has facilitated financing for 200MW 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

Massachusetts Updates 2016 Managed Growth Allocation, Developers Still on Edge

Massachusetts solar developers breathed a sigh of relief after last week’s announcement.

Some developers of 650kW+ solar projects may get their projects built after all.

Some developers of 650kW+ solar projects may get their projects built after all.

After the initial August 26th announcement that the 2016 Managed Growth Capacity Block would be 0MW, the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) opened a public comment period.  As expected, solar stakeholders expressed their concern over the 2016 allocation, citing that the DOER had projected overly ambitious growth in Market Sectors A-C. In response to these comments, DOER adjusted the 2016 Managed Growth Capacity Block allocation from 0MW to 20MW .

What is Managed Growth in Massachusetts?

The Massachusetts SREC-II Program, initiated in April, creates differentiated financial incentives for each market sector (“SREC Factor”) to level the playing field. This program makes smaller solar projects more competitive compared to larger ones by ideally giving financial preference to residential and rooftop projects (a higher SREC Factor close to 1.0) and providing less support for larger projects (ground mount, landfill or brownfield projects less than 650kW.) Previously, this program allocated 26MW and 81MW for the Managed Growth sector in 2014 and 2015 respectively.  As the legislation mandates, the reconsideration and final decision of the 2016 Managed Growth Capacity Block came from the following formula:

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Meet the Sol Systems SREC Customer Service Team

Meet the Sol Systems Customer Service (CS) Team: Sara Rafalson, Alex Mas, Victoria Ngare, and Bridget Callahan.

Seasoned SREC Operations Analyst, Bridget Callahan, provides assistance to a customer in need.

Seasoned SREC Operations Analyst, Bridget Callahan, provides assistance to a customer in need.

Together, they manage accounts for Sol Systems’ customer base of over 4,200+ solar energy system owners in thirteen states who rely on Sol Systems to sell their solar renewable energy credits (SRECs). Their responsibilities are broad, including customer management and support, tracking meter readings, and registering systems with the necessary state and regulatory agencies. Sol Systems prides itself on its superior customer service, and we get back to all customer inquiries within one business day.

While many Sol Systems customers may recognize their names, we wanted to give our SREC customer and installer base the opportunity to get to know the friendly voice on the other side of the phone. 

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Sol Systems COO & General Counsel Stephanie Smith Named C3E Award Finalist

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Stephanie Smith was named a finalist for the C3E awards.

The Clean Energy Education & Empowerment (C3E) Initiative Ambassadors has named Sol Systems General Counsel and Chief Operating Officer, Stephanie Smith, as a finalist for its annual awards program for mid-career women’s leadership and achievement in clean energy. The C3E Initiative was launched in 2010 by the 23-government Clean Energy Ministerial, serving to create opportunities for women in clean energy. The Clean Energy Ministerial is a global forum encouraging the transition to a global clean energy economy through the promotion of policies, programs, and initiatives that help reduce emissions, improve energy access and security, and sustain overall economic growth.

Ms. Smith’s finalist status is an affirmation to her leadership at the D.C.-based solar finance firm, which she joined in 2012. In her tenure, Sol Systems cemented its reputation as a leader in renewable energy finance. To date, the firm has facilitated financing for approximately 145 MW of solar energy assets throughout the United States through tax structured investments, project purchases, SREC monetization, and debt financing. Just last week, Inc. Magazine named Sol Systems as one of the fastest growing companies in the U.S. on its prestigious Inc. 500 list for the second consecutive year.

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3 Reasons Why a Managed SREC Solution Outperforms an Auction

Our team strongly believes that a managed SREC solution, one in which a third party such as Sol Systems executes trades in the best interest of the SREC owner, provides the customer with the highest sale price. Here’s why the managed approach works so well.

1. Aggregation

Aggregation is important because larger volume SREC transactions often result in higher prices. For example, it’s very difficult to sell 12 SRECs on any given day. However, many SREC buyers would be very interested in purchasing 1200 SRECs. The higher volume that a managed SREC solution allows improves liquidity, and results in higher pricing. Sol Systems has always passed down this higher pricing to SREC owners.

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Employee Spotlight: Ben Margolis

This month's employee spotlight features Ben Margolis from our project finance team.

This month’s employee spotlight features Ben Margolis from our project finance team.

At Sol Systems, our team is our number one asset. Their dedication and passion for bringing creative financing solutions to the solar industry are essential to our company’s success. Our company has experienced a lot of recent growth, and we are proud to employ some of the brightest talent in the renewable energy industry. We were able to sit down with Ben Margolis, who has been with Sol Systems for a little over a year and serves as a Director of Project Finance, to hear about his experience.

Has Sol Systems changed since you first started here?

Since I started, we’ve added construction and term debt for solar projects, and we have grown the project finance group and project finance offerings; change in market place has shifted our approach to the market and forced us to adapt, and it’s all been very interesting to be a part of.

What attracted you to work at Sol Systems?

The people. Sol Systems is a great place to work because of the team; it’s exciting and interesting. As a company, Sol Systems has the right people and the right team and is well positioned in the marketplace to succeed.

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Sol Systems to Speak at Intersolar North America in San Francisco

intersolar picSeveral members of the Sol Systems team will attend the Intersolar North America conference in San Francisco next week from July 7-9. Sol Systems’ CFO, George Ashton will share Sol Systems’ experiences financing commercial solar projects on the panel entitled The DG Future – the ITC, Cost-cutting & Positioning Yourself for Ever Changing Incentive Regimes. To date, Sol Systems has facilitated financing for approximately 100 MW of solar projects throughout the United States and has another 84 MW at term sheet. Sol Systems finances DG solar projects through a combination of its tax structured investments, construction and term debt offerings, project purchases, and solar renewable energy credit (SREC) solutions.

Several members of the Sol Systems team will be in San Francisco to meet with developer clients to discuss their solar financing needs. To meet with Sol Systems in San Francisco, please contact our team at info@solsystemscompany.com.

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Sol Systems Welcomes Summer Interns

Sol Systems welcomes four interns for the summer.

Sol Systems is excited to welcome, from left to right, Erica Nangeroni, Rachel Charow, Thomas Kinrade, Aaditya Saple, and Julia Heckmann (not pictured).

At Sol Systems, our number one asset is our team. We are proud of our internship program which provides young people with an opportunity to launch a career in renewable energy. This summer, we are excited to welcome Rachel Charow, Julia Heckmann, Thomas Kinrade, Erica Nangeroni, and Aaditya Saple to our team.

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Sol Systems to Speak at PV America Conference in Boston

Sol Systems will speak at the PV America 2014 Conference in Boston.

Sol Systems will speak at the PV America 2014 Conference in Boston.

The Sol Systems team will attend the PV America 2014 Conference in Boston, MA next week from June 23-25. Sol Systems’ CEO, Yuri Horwitz is the conference’s finance chair this year and will speak on a panel entitled The Future of Solar Financing & Challenges Ahead at 1:30 PM in room 153. Sol Systems will also host a cocktail reception with Hannon Armstrong, our partner on a $100 million solar debt fund that addresses financing challenges in the commercial and industrial (C&I) solar sector.

Several members of the Sol Systems team will be in Boston meeting with developer and investor clients. To meet with Sol Systems in Boston, please contact our team at info@solsystemscompany.com.

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New Jersey’s PSE&G’s Second Solar Loan III Solicitation is Coming. Here’s What You Need to Know.

The Public Service Electric and Gas Company of New Jersey (PSE&G) will begin accepting applications in less than a month, on February 25, for its Solar Loan program. While no major changes have occurred since the first solicitation late last year, data is now available on pricing from the first round of applications and awards.

The first solicitation of New Jersey’s PSE&G Solar Loan III program began last year and closed the period on November 12th, 2013.  The program provides loans that make up significant portions of project construction costs (see an example here). The loans can be repaid through SRECs, with payment plans set at the closing of the loan. Cash can also be used to pay in case of low production. Once the loan has been paid in full, any SRECs produced thereafter belong to the owner of the system. The following capacities are available per each program segment:

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Sun Still Rising on Residential Solar

We still see tremendous potential in commercial and industrial (C&I solar), but we’re also bullish on residential solar.

We still see tremendous potential in commercial and industrial (C&I solar), but we’re also bullish on residential solar.

There is much evidence pointing to a rosy future for residential solar.  High retail utility rates provide a compelling reason for homeowners to go solar while residential installation costs continue to drop.  Many of our partners claim that residential system development is more profitable than commercial development. Even solar developers that historically led the commercial and utility sectors are taking strides to enter the residential space.

In late 2013, SolarCity, successfully securitized cash flows from a portfolio of solar assets, accessing capital from the public markets via a $54 million bond offering. SolarCity accomplished the securitization milestone at a rate of 4.8%, and other solar companies may follow with perhaps even lower rates. Solar asset securitization deepens the pool of capital while cheapening the cost of capital. Meanwhile, SolarCity’s stock price has skyrocketed since its IPO a year ago, and new IPOs may be on the horizon for SunRun, Clean Power Finance, and Vivint Solar.

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Employee Spotlight: Andrew Gilligan

At Sol Systems, we realize that our work is a reflection of who we are as individuals, and our success is a direct result of all the different personalities, passions, and talents that your employees bring to the table. Our team has expanded significantly in the last few years, and we are proud to employ some of the brightest talent in the renewable energy industry. On this employee highlight we have Andrew Gilligan, Senior Associate at Sol Systems:

This month’s employee spotlight features Andrew Gilligan from our investor advisory services team.

This month’s employee spotlight features Andrew Gilligan from our investor advisory services team.

What is your current position at Sol Systems?

I am a Senior Associate and help to lead our Investor Advisory Group. As part of this team, I assist renewable energy investors across the United States to successfully deploy capital into solar projects.

How has Sol Systems changed since you first started at the firm?

Since I started with Sol Systems in early 2011, the firm has undergone a lot of changes. Back then, we were a small start-up company only offering SREC solutions. Today, we have evolved to become a financial services firm that can help with any part of the capital stock for projects in all relevant US solar markets.

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Sol Systems’ Financing Partnership with Washington Gas Featured in Washington Business Journal

Sol Systems’ partnership with Washington Gas was featured in the Washington Business Journal.

Sol Systems’ partnership with Washington Gas was featured in the Washington Business Journal.

The Washington Business Journal recently featured our financing partnership with Washington Gas Energy Systems, Inc. on three new solar projects in Hawaii, Maryland, and Sol Systems’ hometown, Washington, D.C.  Sol Systems served as an investment advisor to Washington Gas Energy Systems for these projects, assisting in project origination, due diligence, negotiation, and deal structuring before ultimately guiding these projects to financial close.

Washington Gas Energy Systems will build, own and operate three more new solar projects, at the KIPP School in the District, Presbyterian Senior Living Services in Glen Arm, Md. and the Turtle Bay Resort in Oahu, Hawaii.

The projects will come online under 20-year power purchase agreements. Sol Systems is Washington Gas Energy Systems’ investment advisor, lining up third party financing.

The cost of the projects was not disclosed.

KIPP School will get a 227-kilowatt roof array. Presbyterian Senior Living Services will have a 1,320- kilowatt ground-mounted system, and Turtle Bay Resort will have a 402-kilowatt roof mounted system.

Read the full article from the Washington Business Journal here.

About Sol Systems

Sol Systems is a boutique financial services firm that offers investor clients direct access to the renewable energy asset class and provides developers with sophisticated project financing solutions. Founded in 2008, Sol Systems focuses on meeting the most critical needs of the industry, including SREC monetization, capital placement, tax equity, and New Market Tax Credits. To date, the company has arranged financing for thousands of projects and facilitated hundreds of millions in investment on behalf of Fortune 100 companies, private equity, family offices and individuals.

For more information, please visit www.solsystemscompany.com.

California’s AB 327 Proposes Changes to Current Rate Structures, Protects Net Energy Metering (NEM)

AB 327 proposes giving the CPUC authority to change rate structures and extends net energy metering (NEM) policy in California.

After being passed by the California Senate, the controversial net energy metering (NEM) and rate structure bill AB 327 was passed by the California Assembly earlier this month. The bill now awaits Governor Jerry Brown’s signature before it becomes law. In its current form, AB 327 aims to give the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) the ability to flatten tiered rate structures for residential consumers, and pass a tariff of no more than $10 on rate payers to finance fixed transmission and distribution costs faced by utilities. While initially a step back for distributed solar, in its final version, the bill also includes an extension of  California’s NEM policy – slated to reach the end of its life at the end of 2014 at the latest – to July 1, 2017. The new NEM policy would allow CPUC to mandate utilities to acquire more than 33 percent of their power from renewable energy sources, as opposed to the current ceiling of “up to” 33 percent.

Initially, AB 327 was painted as the bill that could stymie solar growth in California. Solar advocates stood in opposition to the bill because flattened rate structures could negatively impact rooftop solar. Coupled with the end of NEM in 2014, flat rates could spell a major slowdown in the growth of residential solar. Utilities have argued for flattened rate structures, coupled with a monthly flat fee for all customers, saying that it would help meet growing energy needs, especially for those heavily burdened by energy costs. But after solar advocates and others included the extension of NEM in the bill, AB 327 has been transformed into the bill that could foster continued growth in the industry for years to come.

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Washington Gas Energy Systems to Build, Own and Operate Three New Solar Projects Across the Nation through Financing Partnership with Sol Systems

Solar Arrays Will Power Turtle Bay Resort in Hawaii, the KIPP School in Washington, D.C., and Presbyterian Senior Living Services in Maryland.

Washington Gas Solar Project Financed with Sol Systems

Sol Systems is proud to announce the successful financing of mid-sized commercial solar projects in Hawaii, Maryland, and D.C. These projects were financed through a partnership with our investor client, Washington Gas Energy Systems.

McLean, Va. – Washington Gas Energy Systems, Inc. has announced that it has contracted to build, own and operate three new solar arrays through a financing partnership with Sol Systems. The photovoltaic systems will power the Turtle Bay Resort in Oahu, Hawaii, the KIPP School in Washington, D.C., and Presbyterian Senior Living Services in Glen Arm, Md. Washington Gas Energy Systems will own and operate the solar systems under 20-year power purchase agreements. Sol Systems acted as an investment advisor to Washington Gas Energy Systems for these projects, which bring the organizations access to clean, solar electricity through third-party financing.

“We commend the KIPP School, Turtle Bay Resort and Presbyterian Senior Living Services for their environmental stewardship and we are pleased to be partnering with Sol Systems,” said Sanjiv Mahan, Vice President of Business Development at Washington Gas Energy Systems. “This strategic project portfolio strengthens our existing footprint in key regions throughout Maryland and Washington, D.C., while expanding our portfolio into strong solar states like Hawaii, giving us a true nationwide presence.”

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Sol Systems’ Growth Highlighted in the Washington Business Journal

Sol Systems' success was recently highlighted in the Washington Business Journal.

Sol Systems’ growth and recent project finance successes were highlighted in Friday’s Washington Business Journal.

The Washington Business Journal recently highlighted the growth of our staff and the recent success of Sol Systems’ project finance business.

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Sol Systems to Speak at Novogradac’s Financing Renewable Energy Conference in San Francisco

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The Financing Renewable Energy Conference will be held in San Francisco, California.

Sol Systems CEO Yuri Horwitz and Dan Yonkin, Director of Tax Equity, will be attending the upcoming Novogradac Financing Renewable Energy Conference in San Francisco. The event will be held April 24-25th and will include dozens of expert speakers and hundreds of renewable finance professionals. Yuri, our CEO and co-founder, will be featured on Wednesday the 24th in a panel titled “Searching for the Lowest Cost of Capital,” sharing his expertise on securing investment in the growing and complex green energy industry. Yuri will join executives from Deutsche Bank, Clean Power Finance, and other financing institutions to discuss the potential and viability of debt financing through asset-backed securities, master limited partnerships and even a federal production tax credit for solar energy.

Sol Systems offers investors a diverse range of opportunities to deploy capital in the renewable energy asset class. Our team originates project opportunities from our national network, conducts thorough due diligence of each projects, structures and negotiates complex tax transactions, and manages the asset post-closing to maximize each project’s cash and tax benefits.

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Sol Systems Speaks at the American Solar Energy Society Conference in Baltimore

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Sol Systems CFO and co-founder, George Ashton, will be attending SOLAR 2013, an annual conference held by the American Solar Energy Society. This is the 42nd installment of the event, and will be held April 16-20 at the Baltimore Convention Center. George will be participating in a 90-minute panel discussion titled “Financing DG Projects,” where he will speak alongside Rich Deutschmann of Ameresco, Chris Lord of Capiron, and Steve Remen of GroSolar.  The panel will be held on Wednesday, April 17th, from 1 PM until 2:30 PM and will focus on funding distributed generation installations.

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