Financing solar projects has always been fairly complex. It involves tax credits, depreciation and state incentives. The ability to monetize these is key. We all know that the value of New Jersey SRECs has come way down from the prices they commanded less than a year ago. That has made financing projects even more challenging. And many projects have become ‘stranded.’
Not a day goes by that we aren’t contacted by some company claiming they can finance solar projects. Usually the story is that the principals of the firm are from Wall Street and they’ve got lots of money to invest. No problem with all of that. However, the ability to perform is usually suspect.
One of the responsibilities of my job is ensuring that the financial partners we go to market with can actually perform should we win the business. It’s one of the most important things to our business. Which brings me to the title of this blog entry. If you are considering several proposals from solar companies, you actually have two decision processes. First, ensure the solar company has done it many times before. Then, you also need to vigorously vet the financial partner. No question should be out of bounds. Ask how they are accounting for SRECs, whether they have rock solid firm financing commitments for your project, what contingencies are in their offer, etc.
If you do your homework, you can minimize the risk inherent in financing solar projects. Insist upon financing partners who can demonstrate their ability to perform. You need to be confident that they can execute. If you have the right financial partner and you’ve chosen the right solar integrator, you’re on your way.