Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Strategy for Faster Implementation of Solar PV projects in Sustainable Green Communities

An Year has gone by as we tried to find a way to help our small communities to find Energy Independence with Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with a Private Developer who would finance, build and operate the solar PV system. 

This is a great  idea but with no risk comes the delays and uncertainties. Some of the host communities found out that Developer was unable to complete the projects in time due to weak financial support where the investor just backed off from the deal. What should the community do to assure faster and more assured implementation?

We are now following a two step procurement approach that can save money and get better outcome for all parties. It all starts with community education to first build the buy in and desire to go green and make your own power at a suitable site. Study of all of the municipality owned facilities energy consumption is necessary to estimate the current energy use and size the Solar PV system and a site with adequate electrical service to be able to supply excess power to the grid.

The second step is to present the opportunity to financing Companies and get a commitment from them as Proforma PPA based on a projected capital cost of the system. Once the terms of the power purchase agreements are executed then we issue a Request for Proposal to design and build the system from local developer -solar installers. These proposals are evaluated to select the contractor to submit the bid proposal to NYSERDA and get the grant commitment.The final PPA is executed after modifications to take into account the actual capital cost and grant amount. This approach takes away the need for solar PV installers to search for financing partner since the Owner makes this choice at the beginning of the project.

This market needs fast track and simpler process to cut costs and get best value for the communities. 

Go Solar Now. The process is now better and many communities now realize that this is the right thing to do.


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Saturday, February 01, 2014

Taming the Increasing Cost of Energy with Solar PV by Sustainable Communities

Municipal leaders in Upstate NY face challenges of increasing cost of operations and reducing tax base. Fewer tax payers need to support these cost increases. Energy is one of the operational cost elements that can now be reduced by conservation efforts. However as the unit cost of power goes up from 12 cents to 24 cents in next 20 years, what can be done at the present?

Fortunately the cost of Solar PV has come down significantly and Federal and State tax credits or grants help reduce the capital cost to make it affordable. These cost factors have created an opportunity to work with third party developers who can finance the project based on a long term power purchase agreement with the Municipality.

This concept of public private partnership offers a Win Win proposition where the cost of power can be fixed and depends on the level of risks taken by the investors. If the Municipality wishes to take zero risk then they would end up paying more for the cost of power sold to the Municipality.

Some communities can see the benefit of Solar Power and are willing to make some capital contribution as Advance payment toward future purchase of the system after the private party has taken all of the tax benefits including faster depreciation. At this time the system can be purchased at fair market value. Communities willing to invest about 20% of the capital cost at the beginning of the project are finding that they can bring the cost of electricity down to 6-8 cents now and expect to reduce it further to 5-6 cents per kwh after 10 years and lasting for another 25 years for the life of the solar PV system. This is a smart way to control the cost of power for a very long term with small investment at the beginning. Energy Independence is now possible and some leading communities are on their way to achieve it. This approach can make all of their public buildings achieve  Net-Zero electric energy goal.

Good financial planning and consideration of risks should be done as the communities develop a strategy for their energy future. What ever path you take, do start the process and join the fast growing solar power trend based on available incentives in New York.

Good Luck!

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Saturday, January 04, 2014

Financing is key to Sustainable Green CommunityDevelopment

As the new year 2014 starts, we must review what occurred in 2013 and plan strategies that can avoid the hurdles to faster implementation of Green energy programs in New York and other States in America. While we wait for a National investment plan, each State can do what is appropriate for them.

New York has many innovative funding  initiatives but the rate of implementation is still slow because of lack of affordable capital funding to start the projects. Many of these initiatives are justified based on future savings to payback the investment made on the project and ability to achieve energy independence. Unfortunately the traditional financing institutions are reluctant to take risks on new green technologies and private investments are seeking much higher interest rate which raises the costs to the community. So what can be done to help and make better progress?

The publicly funded  Green Bonds offer a great ray of hope to encourage the implementation of Green energy technologies. Funds can be loaned with 5-10 year term at low interest rate and the risk covered by the borrower who has the expertise in new technologies and willing to use these funds to build the systems and payback the loans from the revenues generated by the savings or generation of green energy.

Fortunately, New York has initiated a $ 1 Billion Green Bank to help meet this funding need for Green projects. This initiative results from the Green Vision promoted by our Governor.
We hope it succeeds in making New York lead this transformation to green and clean technology.
Happy New Year!

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Sunday, December 01, 2013

Thanksgiving to New Year 2014 - a time for Sustainable Green Celebrations

Thanksgiving is now over and we quickly move to Christmas Holidays and Welcoming the New Year 2014.
 when you look back we are thankful that the Hurricane season spared the worst for people living along the Ocean front communities.

We are thankful for the largest growth in Solar PV Renewable energy installations in America and rest of the World. New York State plans to install $500 million dollars worth of solar PV in 2014.

We are excited about the prospects of New York leading the Green Projects as the State supports the use of Green fuels such as BioCNG or RNG in transportation sector.

We look forward to communities partnering with Farm businesses to convert cow manure and food waste into bio-gas and converting this gas in to Compressed natural gas for use on Trucks and fleets with huge savings by replacing diesel fuel and cleaning the air.

The holiday lighting will see lot more use of LED lights that saves money and lasts a lot longer.

Well! Green is now more accepted as we point out the monetary savings and mention environmental benefits as frosting on the cake for the conservative thinkers.

Better days are ahead. Let us celebrate what has been achieved and seek higher levels of success in building sustainable Green Communities and gain Energy Independence.

Happy Holidays!

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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Sun Powered Sustainable Green Communities

What would happen if a Town could claim to be 100% /green energy producer for their own Town facilities?
This is exactly what the Town of Williamson hopes to achieve before July 4th 2014.
How?
This Town  in Wayne County NY has partnered with a Solar Developer and signed a Power Purchase Agreement in September to buy power generated by Solar PV system to be installed at the Old closed landfill.
Next year in summer of 2014 they expect this solar system to produce enough electricity to be equal to their total Town facility consumption per year. This will set them free from future increases in power cost and produce low cost power for next 40 years.
So how much capital cost the Town will pay for this project?
Zero!
This is only possible because the State Incentives and Federal tax credits make the investment by third party very attractive and a power consumer can reap the benefit by simply agreeing to buy power from the private party,
If you are a New York State community and want to be energy independent- what are you waiting for?

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Monday, September 30, 2013

Green Energy from Biomass? What would be a fair Definition?

New York State is eager to grow the green energy generation and has many incentives to encourage new solar, wind and biomass to energy programs.

When it comes to organic waste to energy using anaerobic digester, the definition of green energy is only restricted to 50% or more cow manure used for making bio-gas. This is unfair to other projects that use human waste or food processing waste as raw material for digestion.

Hopefully this narrow definition will change soon so many other projects can benefit from the incentives and improve their returns on investment. The time is now if we want to see progress and develop sustainable green communities.

The goal of net-zero energy and energy independence can be reached with broader definition when waste materials are sources as feed to the digesters.

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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Is the Solar PV system a passport to Energy Independence for sustainable communities?

The  Electrical power consumer now has the financial incentives available in most States in America to reduce the energy use and produce Solar Green power on their property. If they install a system that makes the same amount of power as they consume in one year then they are Energy independent from Electrical power point of view. This concept of distributed generation has the potential to set us FREE from dependence on Utilities grid system where the cost of power keeps going up.

Is it really possible to become Energy Independent with current incentives by installing Solar PV system?
Yes it is not only possible but in New York State, some small Municipalities have planned such projects and expect to do so by next July 4th 2013.

If you wanted to never worry about what the cost of power would be in future then you should look into the incentives available in your State and take action. In New York State, a large electrical energy consumers can partner with private company and obtain benefits of grants and financial incentives under a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). Under this approach we have been able to achieve long term agreements that will allow communities an average cost of power in 6-8 cents range over the 20 year term of the agreement. Considering the life of Solar PV system to be over 30 years, the average cost of power over this life cycle comes down to 4-5 cents per kWh. This represents a great economic benefit when you consider that the same community may be paying 25 cents per kWh or more after 20 years.

We believe this is an opportunity every community should not miss and plan to implement a large scale solar PV system to save money and bring economic development to their community.

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