Full Video and Text of the Community Solar Webinar
How can Community Solar programs help your organization reduce costs? Community Solar provides long-term discounted energy for your properties.
Especially in the context of COVID-19, finding room in your budget is crucial to your organization’s fiscal health. Participation in Community Solar requires no-upfront capital outlays and no installation of a solar plant on your property. Instead, your business, school, or government subscribes to a solar project located in your utility area and you gain access to discounted energy.
In this seminar, we discussed the following topics. Either view the video or jump to the topic in the transcript:
- Benefits of Community Solar
- Barriers to Accessing Solar
- How Community Solar uses bill credits to offer a 10% discount
- How can you subscribe to a Community Solar
- Community Solar versus Rooftop
- The Decision-making Process for Christopher Community
- How much will they Save
Rob Crauderueff: Good morning! My name is Rob Crauderueff from Crauderueff Solar and I’ll be presenting with colleagues from OYA Solar and Christopher Community about an easy way to help your budget near community solar programs.
Crauderueff: If nothing else we can say that we are in interesting times right now and those interesting times are presenting many organizations with budget challenges like municipalities, schools, non-profit business. Everybody is at least looking twice at their operating expenses and frequently are trying to figure out how to meet some main budget cuts.
Crauderueff: We are happy to be the bearers of some good news today, however, to talk about community solar, what it is, how it works and how there is a fairly easy and quite accessible way to reduce electric expenses.
Crauderueff: We have a great panel to educate everybody participating with respect to community solar, Manish Nayar, founder and CEO of OYA Solar, myself of Crauderueff Solar as consultants of OYA Solar, Dough Riecher who is president of Christopher Community and Fred Zolna, a consultant from Christopher Community.
Crauderueff: We will be addressing three main areas in our conversation today. We will begin by talking about many of the barriers to solar, especially challenges to onsite and self-finance solar. Then we will talk about community solar in terms of what it is, its mechanics, and how community solar delivers savings to property owners.
Crauderueff: We will conclude with a case study of Christopher Community, an affordable housing organization that has subscribed to more than 30 properties to community solar. They have gone through a whole process of considering whether they should build solar onsite or go forward with community solar. So, we’ll really get an in-depth discussion from a property owner’s perspective on why community solar can be a good fit.
Crauderueff: So, Manish would you like to start by giving a quick intro on OYA?
Manish Nayar: Sure, thanks Rob and welcome to everyone on the webinar. It’s really great to have you all here with us talking about this great opportunity. OYA Solar will be celebrating its 11th year in business next month. We are a developer of community solar projects across the northeast and the Midwest United States. We currently have over a hundred projects in development or in operation and our current pipeline of community solar projects exceeds 1000 megawatts across the country.
Crauderueff: Thank you. Crauderueff Solar – we are a New York State based company and we use creative financing and project aggregation to help property owners access solar and leverage the value of solar where it may not otherwise be accessible. We have more than 60 projects operational, in development, across the state and a pipeline of more than 10 megawatts of solar.
Doug Reicher: I’m Doug Reicher, president of Christopher Community. We have been around, well, for 50 years next year. We’ve managed, developed, managed and built affordable senior family housing across upstate New York. We have projects from Rome and Utica in the East all the way out to Buffalo in the West, up to Watertown North and downtown Myra in the south. Our buildings range in size anywhere from between 1-2 family houses to 140-unit high-rise buildings, so we have all sorts of flavors.
Crauderueff: Manish you want to jump in and speak a little more about OYA?
Nayar: Just to give everyone a flavor of some of our current projects and our portfolio in New York state. We have a number of projects here exceeding probably about 100 megawatts state wide. We are present in most utility territories across the state. Many of these projects will begin construction in the coming 6-12 months, and we expect these projects to be fully operational starting in 2021 through the end of 2022.
Nayar: We recently completed about 67 megawatts of projects in New York state and 100 or so megawatts here represent about ⅔ of our current portfolio in the state.
Crauderueff: Thank you. Doug, you want to jump in about CCI?
Reicher: Sure. As we indicated, we have been doing this a long time. We have several components in our business property management, which is the primary thrust of our business, so we manage over 300 units of housing. We also develop lots of projects from the concept phase all the way up to construction and hopefully leasing them. We also run the section 8 program, housing choice voucher, for most of the county. We have 1,000 people involved so we see all the aspects of the rental housing world in the affordable arena.
Crauderueff: Great, thank you.
Crauderueff: While we want to talk about what can be done with respect to solar, it’s important also to talk about the barriers, especially to onsite solar in upstate New York. One of the big challenges of course is upfront cost and property owner’s needing to identify the capital, equity, or debt, to put into the project.
Crauderueff: There is also a lack of tax appetite for many property owners, certainly governments, schools, non-profits (who don’t have any tax appetite) and even profit businesses may not be fully able to fully utilize the federal tax credits that can cover 26% of project cost.
Crauderueff: Then there is solar expertise, in-house capacity to manage a project and to effectively procure solar projects in addition to addressing any onsite construction needs. Then once the system is built, also making sure that the system is operating and maintained as it should be to provide the expected results.
Crauderueff: And lastly, for property owners or others with a mission-based focus, there is no opportunity to extend benefits beyond the property itself for example, for a housing organization that would like to be able to extend benefits to their tenants.
Nayar: I’ll chat a little about how community solar actually works, the great thing about community solar is that it really addresses many of the barriers that Rob just outlined.
Nayar: Community solar allows us to build a larger solar project ideally sited both for permitting with the local stakeholders involved but also with the utility. We are then able to allocate shares of the power produced from that solar system to multiple subscribers of that power. That is allocated according to each subscriber’s annual usage and there are really 3 simple steps in understanding how this works. The first step is that we generate the power at the site and create bill credits and the value of those credits are determined in New York state by the VDER value stack which is a simple structure made of up of 5 components which calculates the price of that credit in any given utility territory and site location.
Nayar: The next step is that the subscriber will receive bill credits. Now, this doesn’t change your utility bill, you continue to receive power from your utility company and you still pay your utility bill. However, you will see an additional VDER bill credit on your monthly bill once you are a subscriber to a fully operational project that represents your subscription and that credit is based on the amount of electricity that that particular subscriber is subscribed to from our project. As an example, if your monthly energy costs are 1,000 dollars and we’ve all done our job correctly, you should receive bill credits in a pretty much similar percentage which will show that your bill will net to 0 dollars. The third step is really that you get to keep the 10% of those bill credits that are provided to you from subscribing to power from our community solar project. So, you’ll now receive a bill for 90% of those meter billed credits and you’ll continue to retain the 10% of the subscription savings. We use that money to fund the construction and ongoing operation and maintenance of the solar plant for a 25+ year period. So, when all the math is set and done you should save in this example 100$ or 10% of your meter bill credit.
Nayar: So why does this make more sense than a typical rooftop solar installation? In addition to some of the barriers that Rob has already mentioned, obviously in this instance, we’re committing to the capital outlay of the project, so the subscriber is not expected to provide any capital to support the project at any time through the subscription life. That stands in contrast to a typical solar project. Also, the savings that we are providing you, the 10% savings on your VDER bill credit is guaranteed savings. The VDER bill credit may fluctuate up or down a little bit month to month year per year, but your savings for that credit are locked in.
Nayar: This is different from a rooftop solar where you’re net metering your system and really your savings depend on your production in any given month and all of your operation and maintenance cost and you’re really taking that risk to ensure that you’re generating low savings versus in this scenario where your savings will be guaranteed. Also, in community solar there is no onsite installation or construction, no need to manage traffic or hold permits with the city, block off roads etc, also no disruption to your business at all, or to your organization or your tenants, depending on what type of business you operate. So that can really have a meaningful impact. It’s a very stress-free way to enable more solar in your community, but still get the savings attached to enabling that renewable energy.
Nayar: There are some ancillary benefits as well, it creates more value for your utility company because now the 100% of the power is going to the grid and it allows the utility to plan better long term and hopefully that means enabling more clean energy and more savings for the community. In some cases we were able to add storage as a final incremental benefit and that increases the overall benefit for everyone because we are able now to time when we deploy that energy onto the grid and take advantage of higher pricing and typically that higher pricing is during peak demand times in the summer and in the afternoon. But we then get to pass more of that savings on to you – the subscriber.
Crauderueff: To build on what Manish was saying, there are two main opportunities here. One is for the economics savings (automatic savings) that are discounts off electric bills. And this savings not only is short term but it’s a long-term benefit to over 25+ or more years.
Crauderueff: So, it is a long-term opportunity to reduce operating expenses in a very reliable way. The second opportunity is to have a broader impact in terms of having a cleaner energy source and more of a mission based opportunity to mitigate the impacts of climate change and even with projects that are near the area, to be able to show that one is vested in a local project that has clear environmental benefit.
Crauderueff: We’re about to hear from Christopher Community in terms of their decision-making process and how they wound up deciding to move forward with community solar. What’s important is for those of you who are involved in other sectors, then the process – the decision making process – in terms of how to procure energy and how to consider what the benefits are, are very consistent let it be for a government entity or a school or a private business. I hope that as we turn the keys over to Doug and Christopher Community that you’re able to learn in terms of how this could apply to your own properties.
Crauderueff: Fred do you want to jump in?
Frederick Zolna: Hello everyone my name is Fred Zolna and I’ve been working with Christopher Community on this solar project for a couple of years now, I worked for them as a development person prior to that. In effect, we’re here as a case study for all the things that Rob and Manish talked about previously in terms of the barriers and benefits of going with community solar.
Zolna: I mean frankly you started on this out of concern for climate change and looking at ways to have some impact on environmental problems but also realizing at the same time that Christopher community could only get involved with solar if it enhanced their mission to provide affordable housing to low and moderate income tenants so obviously we were looking for something that was cost effective in savings and ultimately we found that in community solar.
Zolna: So, we really started out looking at the possibility of doing rooftop solar on any one or more of the 50 roofs that Christopher Community has control of as its management company and through ownership.
Zolna: So, we engaged a local engineering firm to look at the roofs and found that some of them were oriented appropriately for solar and some of them weren’t. There were concerns about whether the condition of all the roofs were amenable to installing solar panels or whether we needed to put in a new roof before doing that – of course the expenses there would be something that could be absorbed into the project.
Zolna: You know we looked at what legal structure might be needed in order to take advantage of tax credits which as a nonprofit Christopher Community cannot do. We talked with possible financing agencies. They said each one of those requirements (things we would have to solve for rooftop solar) would just become instrumental obstacles to Christopher Community accessing solar.
Zolna: We also had some conversations with the utility company about whether we could physically do it and they were not helpful, and we had no experience really negotiating or working with utilities and their regulatory structure so that that was certainly a challenge.
Zolna: We also realize that in order to do construction on any of the Christopher community buildings Christopher Community would need approvals from a whole slew of other agencies – the regulatory agencies, the warehousing companies, probably the mortgages and even the limited partners in some of the housing projects. So, all of these are becoming problems with rooftop installations.
Zolna: So we found with community solar that their economies of scale, the regulatory environment was more clear once New York State community solar rigs and the VDER pricing structure became clearer it seemed the community solar just seemed more predictable than what we could come up with trying to price a rooftop system. Also, the fact that we don’t have to do construction. So, Christopher Community came to the conclusion that community solar was the way to go rather than rooftop solar.
Zolna: So then Christopher Community came to the point of seeking out a solar developer to partner with, to do community solar and we had three different solar developers with whom we communicated and asked a lot of questions and explored what the options were for community solar.
Zolna: Doug and I talked about all these issues extensively, I mean I gather data on these issues that are on this slide I mean obviously we were comparing costs between three different possible community solar providers, so we asked each one of them
Zolna: To look at Christopher Community properties and see which ones were good candidates for their being involved in the community solar project based on their billing and their structure of their financing. We looked at the size and experience of the solar developers and whether they could include tenant meters or not. We considered the location and the experience of these potential developers in our area and in New York state and site control was a very big issue in the question being whether the developers actually had projects in-the-works that Christopher Community could tap.
Reicher: So, you know as Fred indicated we sort of said, well, we’re going to rooftop or we’re going to go over community solar and we came to the conclusion that community solar made more sense at a high level.
Reicher: We actually had some experience with rooftop a number of years ago. There was a grant that came through NYSERDA and we quickly applied, and we rewarded rooftop solar for five buildings.
Reicher: Turns out one of them we couldn’t put it on because there was a rooftop issue with standing water, so this sort of was in my mind when Fred came to me and said hey why don’t we consider expanding this benefit to many of the buildings that we have. I said OK well how are we going to do this and talking with my facilities people, they were concerned about putting stuff on the roof – what are we going to do if we have a leak? What happens if something happens to it? How do we redo the roofs? Do we want to own this in any way or have any involvement in the hardware side?
Reicher: We are a real estate management company – we’re not an engineering firm or an energy firm, so it made no sense for us to really get into that. So this was a simple way to do that in essence. You know if I were to come up with the description this is like OK we had another utility company that came to us that said hey we’re going to we want to sell you a solar power rather than something is produced by water or nuclear or gas fired and you want to buy it and it’s an arrangement we can reduce your electrical costs and it’s simply really a matter of doing paperwork.
Reicher: So this made a lot of sense to me from a practical management point of view, and also the fact that OYA was well established in New York state – they knew their way through the local municipalities to get these things cited – we understand that because we’re all over New York State trying to put buildings in and dealing with different municipalities, and the siting process of any structure is always a challenge and they clearly had that. Also, the potential that we could down the road have the tenants involved in community solar individually (right now it’s only going to be the utilities for the buildings themselves) but it was worth it to us and we saw that as it made a lot of sense.
Crauderueff: So, to summarize the benefits to Christopher Community starting at a high level and then I’ll lift up the hood a little bit. Doug do you want to talk about how at a high level this really was a decision you wanted to make?
Reicher: As many of you may know in the real estate world the individual buildings are individually owned and operated. We managed them and we have some management and ownership involved in any of them, so we were dealing with different boards and obviously we’re government funded.
Reicher: We’ve got government subsidies in various ways, so money is very tight and especially nowadays with this pandemic in budget impact. So, we saw an opportunity that we could say utility costs we could get a 10% reduction in our electric costs. It was a pretty easy thing for us to look at it and you can see the overall benefits are important on an annual basis but over a 25-year period, we’ll be able to save over a million dollars. It’s nice to be able to say that and all we’re going to do is simply just pay a bill to someone else in the end after doing some paperwork and it doesn’t get much easier than that
Crauderueff: To build off of how we arrive at that million-dollar savings we will start off at a high-level number and then provide a couple example projects. The total bill credit value which is sized for Christopher Community’s annual collector costs is averaging $428,790 over the life of the project with an average annual savings of $42,879 a year. Over 25 years, this comes to $1,071,975. So the top area here shows really what’s most relevant to Christopher Community but as my 10th grade science teacher told me always show you work or you don’t get any credit so we’ll lift up the hood a little bit and tell you how we arrived at these numbers.
Crauderueff: So, I will work through two different examples so you can get a sense of how different projects and different geographic regions work.
Crauderueff: This first is a demand meter and the second will be a mass market. A demand meter building is essentially a more energy intensive building and utilities classify them differently. This project here is in NYSEG territory, the other project is a National Grid territory and the projects are also at different sizes but what you’ll find is that it looks and feels the same from the customer perspective.
Crauderueff: Here we have an annual bill credit value sized from the previous 12 months of electric bills of $30,330.00. The annual OYA bills 90% of that or $27,297.00 with an annual savings of $3,033 over 25 years and multiplied by 25 makes a total savings of $75,825. So that’s what a property owner really needs to know. Let’s go into the details. This project here is in Franklin County located in NYSEG territory. It’s a 6.8 MW DC project so it’s a large-scale system in a field and the operation date is up and running. Christopher Community will start saving money Q1 of next year.
Crauderueff: Now, what we do is we say well how much total value is a project going to create and what percent of that total value needs to be allocated to this particular site through a subscription agreement to make sure that that $30,330 is the bill credit value for the striker home apartments project. In this case when you run the numbers, we look at the annual electricity generated by the system which is just over 9.9 million kilowatt hours a year. The value of the energy that’s injected into the grid – NYSEG compensates that it’s just over $0.10 per kWh and when we run the numbers then we realized that this particular site needs an allocation of three 3.03% of this particular solar project to arrive at the appropriate annual bill credit value again of $30,330.
Crauderueff: That 3.03% is codified through these subscription agreements so these are formal numbers and calculations that we run on the back end to make sure that the property owner (Christopher Community in this case) gets what they need.
Crauderueff: A second example – mass market project – this one is in National Grid territory. Again, it looks and feels the same from the perspective of the subscriber property owner.
Crauderueff: In this case the annual bill credit value is $21,062.00 and OYA bills 90% of that ($18,936.00) with an annual savings of $2,106.00. Multiply that by 25 years you get $52,650. Again, running through, this project’s in Jefferson County and has a 7.5MWDC size and will be up and running Q1 of 2021.
Crauderueff: Now let’s look at the total value of the project. The 11+ million kilowatt hours a year generated by the project in this case $0.11 per kWh compensated by National Grid based on the value stack calculations we run the numbers and this project receives a 1.67% allocation of the solar project.
Crauderueff: So, to conclude, there are significant savings for property owners with community solar. The process that Christopher Community went through and the benefits will look and feel give or take the same let it be a government entity, a school, a business, or another housing entity. These significant savings can be arrived as Doug was saying with a relatively simple agreement and finally as I was saying all property ownership types can benefit so in this case we learn from Christopher Community that it’s a real opportunity as projects are being built and operational to subscribe to projects no matter what the property owner type and realize its benefits. So at this I’d like to open it up to questions and we look forward to hearing from you.
Nayar: We did have one question come in during the presentation, I’ll just read the question.
“It looks like National Grid’s VDER credit is under file state #32. Fast statement effective May of this year’s about 2 cents kWh, so at 10% that would amount to 2/10 of a penny kilowatt hour credit for the customer, is that correct?”
Nayar: I’m not sure about that specific statement but in National Grid territory, the bill credit can range between $0.09 and $0.11 so the typical savings you would see would be approximately 1 cent kWh. We could project that rate to continue to grow between 1% and 3% depending on where we are in the state.
Crauderueff: Another common question, Manish, is around how a community solar agreement relates to an escrow agreement. I believe in the case of Christopher Community, you all are working with an escrow so Doug would you like to jump in and talk about how the process worked on your end?
Reicher: Well it was pretty simple. The escrow agreements were still in place and even some of the buildings that we have the existing rooftop solar on still also can benefit from this, it’s just another source of development.
Reicher: The process was relatively simple – we gave Rob and his group and OYA access to our utilities so they had access they could go in and they could look at our utility consumption and they could get the next 24 months’ study or whatever they needed to project what it was. Then we made sure we had buildings that were decent size so there’s enough electricity to make it worth the effort – we have about 30 almost 35 of these that are going to be involved and then they came forth with a proposal and gave us the credit that we’re going to get they put together a subscription agreement which was a couple pages.
Reicher: I indicated each of our buildings is managed by a board of directors – not for profit board – so we took that subscription agreement to the board and asked them to do a board resolution to authorize us to enter into that agreement because it is a long-term agreement.
Reicher: Most daily operations we do without board approval, but this was a 25-year agreement and that’s it, then we wait for them to build the site and plug it in. So, it can be relatively simple and smooth. It took us a long time to get there because we were trying to figure out what the best way was and also rules and regulations in New York state were evolving but now that we’ve gotten there, we’re going to do this again when we have some more buildings to involve.
Crauderueff: Great, glad to hear that Doug. Manish do you have anything to add or did another question come in?
Nayar: There are a couple more questions. I would just add that any existing escrow relationship and VDER bill credit are mutually exclusive, so you don’t have to change anything about your existing escrow procurement. The VDER credit is an additional credit that is separate and different from any of your daily energy procurement. A question came in:
“Could you please review again how the credit system works and what we see on our bill?”
Nayar: So maybe it’s helpful Rob if we just went back to that slide. It may be helpful if we were to change your monthly energy costs to let’s say $2000 to be a little more illustrative, but if your monthly bill for the month of June was $2000 and we subscribe to you for the equivalent of $1,000 worth of bill credits, which if we use as I mentioned earlier $0.10 per kWh bill credit. This would be equivalent to let’s say 10,000 kilowatt hours of bill credits, you’ll receive your existing utility bill with an additional line item on your bill which will show 10,000 kilowatt hours times $0.10 per kWh of bill credit and you will have a credit on your bill of $1000. so $2000 – $1000 dollars you have a utility bill payable to National Grid for $1000.
Nayar: Separate from that you will then receive a bill from OYA for those 10,000 kilowatt hours and our bill will be for $0.09 a kWh or 10% less than the total that you received on your National Grid bill. You would remit $0.09 times 10,000 kilowatt hours to us, or $900, and you would retain the $100 of bill credit. So, your net bill in that scenario would have started at $2000, you would have received $1000 in full credits, you would owe us $900 of that and so your net savings would be $100 and that would be the monthly savings.
Reicher: Basically to recap, you would get two bills. You are going to get a bill from your regular utility company with a credit on it and then a bill from OYA for the utility cost minus the discount so you would pay a total of $1900 for $2000 worth of electricity on a monthly basis.
Nayar: That’s correct – I tried my best to explain that!
Reicher: Well from our point of view when we’re writing the checks we’re asking well who are we writing the checks to and is someone just going to send us money or are we actually just going to get a reduction in cost because that’s a question that comes up when we’re trying to present this to our boards.
Reicher: No, we’re not going to get a check back from anybody but we’re just going to spend less than what the bill would show – we’re just going to have a credit on there. So, you can’t really put that in the bank but you also know that you could budget that discount if you know what your utilities are going to be in the coming years.
Crauerueff: So to build off of what Doug was saying of who gets paid then right now there are two separate bills – one from the utility and a separate bill that is generated from OYA, however, utilities are in the process of setting up what’s called consolidated billing where all the payments will flow directly through your local utility and that will make life a lot easier for everybody around. That’s expected to be up and running in the next 6 to 12 months so as these projects are coming online in Q1 of next year and throughout 2021 then maybe there’s only a period of a couple months where a separate bill needs to be provided but ultimately the billing system will be simplified directly through the utility.
Nayar: Right. One additional question:
“What percentage of the installed solar capacity is actually generated? A couple of central New York-based solar projects average under 10% due to our cloudy conditions due to the Lake Ontario lake effect.”
Nayar: I think the way to think about it is that 1 MW of capacity in our solar plants will produce approximately 1,500 MW hours of electricity. That’s on an annual basis. We would expect 2/3 of that electricity in the warmer six months of the year and 1/3 of that electricity through the winter months. Please if you have any additional questions please feel free to ask in the Q&A tab at the bottom of the screen.
Crauderueff: Any last questions? Doug, do you have any last words you’d like to leave with us?
Reicher: Well I would be glad to talk to anybody if they wish to reach out to me just to one-on-one describe our experience. We’re not hooked up yet but we’re going to be soon by Q1 of next year and meanwhile we’re getting our subscription agreements put into place. Anyone should feel free if they want to know what to do.
Reicher: In the end, for our experience with you having done some rooftop and having contemplated doing more, this is just a much easier option. We could stay in our wheelhouse and not have to go into the utility business, it makes a whole lot of sense. We have enough complexities we don’t need that more.
Nayar: I would just add that we think that community solar is really great in building stakeholder and community engagement as I think this can be referenced here and it’s great that Christopher Community tenants can actually see and touch (well maybe not touch) the impact and the jobs that are created which are local, meaningful, and long term jobs. I think there’s a lot of positive feedback throughout the community as we build more of these of these plants throughout the state.
Crauderueff: Well at that then we like to thank everybody for participating. We’re happy to be a resource in moving forward.
Nayar: Sorry Rob – we have one more question.
Crauderueff: Oh great! Please jump in.
“Can you elaborate on the ‘Why Community Solar and not Rooftop’ slide?”
Nayar: So, I think first and foremost, the process community solar really puts all the risk on us as the developer and owner in terms of permitting, financing, construction, utility interconnection and it really de-risks the rooftop solar owner.
Nayar: We’ve got the internal staff to ensure that these projects get built correctly and then really we’re passing the savings of the lower construction costs (because we’re building more optimally sited and larger projects) back onto you the subscriber. So, whatever sector that you’re in or whether you’re a large demand user or small commercial user, we guarantee those savings to you for 25 years. When you look at rooftop solar, you have to net meter that system.
Nayar: Not only that but you have to take care of that system, ensure that it is operating, respond quickly to downtime related to a broken solar panel or vandalism or bird droppings or simply a utility outage and those problems can exasperate overtime and your savings and your return on your capital are directly related to your ability to effectively monitor and stay on top of that systems production.
Nayar: The other big benefit here is that there’s no real on-site related construction issues such as craning, lifting, blocking off access to your building, traffic management coordinating with local municipality, dealing with contractors, etc. The day-to-day things that can really suck up time and divert focus away from your core business whatever that may be. We take all that risk on.
Nayar: Then the two ancillary benefits really is that we’re able to add storage, New York state has done a pretty great job of basically creating a market signal to us as solar developers telling us this is how we want to incentivize storage and this is where the value is. So we’re able to add storage to certain solar projects (not all) and what that allows us to do is inject power at the times (which may or may not be different from when we’re producing the power) that are higher value and so that correspondingly the credit will be higher and your 10% savings could also be higher.
Nayar: Of course all of this really allows the utility to plan better such as what their network resources are going to be over time and theoretically we hope and believe that grid reliability will improve and upgrades of utility equipment should reduce because we’re really taking on a more active role on the grid and greening the actual electricity that’s being delivered not only to the grid but to our subscribers as well.
Reicher: I just wanted to add to that just from a practical point of view in our case we had different ownership and government entities that were involved in. And if we were going to do major structural changes to the building like this that could involve potentially having to get permission from investors or owners or government agencies, even the permitting process to put something on a roof like this.
Reicher: Dealing with individual municipalities, villages, and towns could be daunting too and is something just to keep in mind. Lots of other things seem to be going this way if you look at computer software you know Microsoft have moved this way so we all do Microsoft Office through 365 we don’t own install software on individual computers as much as we did it’s now available we have the latest and greatest and the professionals are maintaining it for us 24 hours a day 7 days a week, so it made sense for us and it’s certainly worth considering.
Crauderueff: It’s quickly worth noting for those of you who are tuning in from the New York City area that the economics of New York City are distinct from upstate and so we can have a separate conversation offline about a rooftop community solar opportunity there that can work quite well.
Crauderueff: However, when we’re talking about National Grid territory – NYSEG – then the economics really don’t work out on the rooftop and these larger scale offsite systems are an easy and very efficient way to go.
Nayar: We have two more questions. First, the simple one:
“Do you have any projects in Maine?”
Nayar: The answer is maybe. There’s an upcoming procurement in Maine, we do have some development sites in Maine, but we are not sure if we would be awarded one of those projects at the moment. I think we would hear in the fall. I would be happy to chat more about Maine, please feel free to reach out to me directly on that. One last question here:
“What are the major issues impacting the ability to install storage?”
Nayar: I could give quite a broad answer but I think that generally the biggest issue impacting our ability to install storage when we are talking about outside New York City (in rest of the state) is a function of pricing and specifically of local grid issues and the ability for the utility to work with our ability to inject power not at peak times of the day.
Nayar: So it’s more of I guess two issues – one is economic, or the price of power and the second is working with the utility to get them comfortable that we can inject our power even when there’s not a lot of demand on that particular geography at that time. That’s more of a technical issue related to protection and controls and interfacing with the utility. I hope I answered your question if I didn’t please feel free to follow up here or we can take it offline.
Crauderueff: Any additional questions?
Nayar: Nope we’re good, we will follow up later on the search. I think that’s it for questions.
Crauderueff: Wonderful, thank you everybody for joining us! It’s been a great conversation, we really hope to keep this conversation live with everybody who’s participated so feel free to reach out to any of us who participated on this webinar and have a wonderful afternoon. We’ll be in touch, have a good one!
Nayar: Thank you.
Reicher: Thank you.
Zolna: Thank you.
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