Written by Rick Peters

PACE Solar Financing in Maryland and Washington DC

Typical Commercial Challenges

As veterans of the small commercial solar market in this region, we are very familiar with the challenges of financing solar energy systems to this group of property owners.  Small businesses want solar as much or more than any other market segment, but they are capital-constrained like no others so they need affordable financing.

Third party solar developers have been the answer for other markets.  They can easily finance large systems because the cost of assessing the applicant’s credit is well worth the return.  In the case of residential systems, they can use universal tools like credit scores to help manage their risk.  For the small commercial and non-profit market, there hasn’t been a super-attractive  way to finance solar, until now!

Commercial Solar Systems Now Recognized as Public Benefit

Washington DC and Maryland now have laws and programs in place for commercial (and nonprofit) property owners to utilize PACE.  Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) is a vehicle that is used to finance energy improvements for buildings.  It operates under the recognition that energy improvements are considered to be a public benefit.  As such, PACE uses the property tax as a vehicle to structure the financing payments – much like we would finance a sewer extension, but in this case specific to one property.

PACE is very appealing to property owners because they can add significant value to their building on a cash-flow-positive basis without personal guarantees or the application of additional debt to the balance sheet.  The financing payment must be less than the savings and it’s paid in the form of a special assessment on the property tax bill over the term of the financing arrangement (5-25 years at competitive rates).  Multiple energy improvements (i.e. lighting, solar, new roof) can be bundled into one financing package.

The best thing about this approach to financing solar is that the property owner will own the system, not a third party.  The property owner gets all of the benefits, including the energy savings, the substantial incentives, the marketing value, and the satisfaction.  All it costs them is the interest on the financing which pales in comparison to the savings.

More info is available on your webpage on our PACE webpage but you may just want to pick up the phone and call us to see if your property is eligible.

Written by admin

Baltimore Business Thermal SRECs

Maryland Solar Water Heating Bill Moves Forward

The House of Delegates voted 132-5 Saturday, following the Senate’s unanimous 47-0 vote March 17.

The legislation would allow owners of solar water-heating systems to sell renewable energy credits. The credits are bought by utilities and power companies that need to meet government quotas of renewable energy generation; if they can’t generate enough green power on their own, they can buy credits from someone else who has.

The ability to generate credits via solar water heating makes those systems a more attractive investment and rewards the buyers for using less fossil fuel. That is expected to be a boon for the green power industry, seen as a growing source of new jobs.

Gov. Martin O’Malley pitched the legislation along with dozens of lawmakers as co-sponsors. House and Senate versions of the bill still must be passed by the opposite chamber, which is expected since the two bills are identical. O’Malley is then expected to sign off.

solar energy, solar power, installation
Written by admin

The Capital: Solar Power Expo 2011

“Energy touches every aspect of our lives, from the cost of heating our homes to sustaining our resources for future generations.” O’Malley said. “We’re all here today because we understand that we are in a fight for our children’s future. Maryland is leading the nation’s efforts in clean energy and sustainability, and our state’s growing ‘green’ sector is vital to our ability to create jobs and compete globally in the new economy.”

The governor’s appearance, coupled with a growing vendor and visitor base, was seen by Lopez as a good sign.

“It’s good to see the governor is paying attention to these issues,” Lopez said. “The face that we have more than 500 people here shows the public is starting to take notice, as well. Now we just have to take the things we’ve learned and apply them. We need to make these things mainstream.”

One of the vendors was Millersville-based Solar Energy Services. Founded by Roger Perry in 2006, the company analyzes homes and installs solar panels for electricity, hot water and pool heaters, among other uses.

To heat enough water for an average family of four, Solar Energy Services installs two 4-foot by 8-foot solar panels at a cost of approximately $10,000, Perry said. But residents will receive Solar Renewable Energy Credits, along with other state and federal incentives, that will allow the panels to “pay for themselves” in just over two years, Perry said.

Both Perry and Solar Energy Services President Rick Peters say business has been exploding recently.

“We’re growing 80 percent a year, ” Peters said. “We’re growing and we just hired mroe people, so we’re also creating jobs.”

Another Millersville company, Kenergy Solar, also was at the expo. Though the company is only 2 years old, it already has installed solar panels throughout Anne Arundel and Montgomery counties, Coordinator Julia Sullivan said.

Sullivan praised O’Malley and the state’s legislators who are pushing for new, innovative renewable energy policies.

“They’re helping us create a sustainable industry,” Sullivan said.

Lopez is putting putting on another expo in Pennsylvania next month and hopes to eventually expand to Ohio, New York and beyond. He also hopes to add more to the expo in Timonium to a point where the parking lot is full of vendors and visitors alike, he said.

“We haven’t even scratched teh surface of what we can do.” Lopez said.

Maryland Energy Administration Director Malcolm Woolf shared similar sentiments.

“Maryland ahs emerged as a national leader in energy innovation, thanks to the smart choices we’ve made over the last five years,” Woolf said. “Today’s energy summit futher underscores Maryland’s commitment to accelerating our transition to a clean energy future.”