Financing Solar Energy Projects: The Role of Local Government

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1 Financing Solar Energy Projects: The Role of Local Government Jason Coughlin National League of Cities December 2, 2010 Denver, Colorado NREL is a national laboratory of the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, operated by the Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC.

2 Solar America Cities/Communities U.S Department of Energy, National Laboratories, Private Sector Partners and 25 local government partnerships 2

3 The Roles of Local Government Remove barriers to solar installations Support solar installations Public sector installations Building Codes and Standards Streamline permit process Education and Outreach Solar Site Assessments Support Group Purchase Programs Lower sales/property taxes Offer Incentives/Rebates Offer Financing/Reserve Fund Convention Centers, schools, firehouses, libraries, police stations, parking garages, landfills, fleet maintenance yards, etc 3

4 Public Sector PV Installations NREL is a national laboratory of the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency 4 and Renewable Energy, operated by the Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC.

5 Public Sector PV Installations What are the Options? Direct Purchase of PV System Remain with utility for 100% of electricity Third party financed PV System Purchase RECS 5

6 Direct Purchase Treat the Solar Energy System as a capital investment and purchase it. Traditional municipal debt Tax credit bonds Grant financed (e.g. EECBG funds) Performance contracting (maybe) Tax exempt lease not common (tax reasons) 6

7 Tax Credit Bonds & the Direct Subsidy Mechanism Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (CREBs) Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds (QECBs) Qualified School Construction Bonds (QSCB) Qualified Zone Academy Bonds (QZABs) HIRE Act 2010 Issue Taxable Bond Receive Interest Rate Subsidy Net Cost can be cheaper than Tax Exempt Bonds Recent QECB issuances (5) in Colorado had an average net interest cost of 1.93% 7

8 Third Party Finance with Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) NREL is a national laboratory of the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, operated by the Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC.

9 Third Party PPA Structure Instead of purchasing a PV system, a public entity agrees to host the system and purchase the electricity. The contract to purchase this electricity is often called the Power Purchase Agreement or PPA. Purchase PV System output Standard utility payments Government Agency Remaining electricity needs Fixed priced electricity for years Solar Developer Sale-leaseback transaction* Investors Local utility Tax benefits 1. Relationship between developer and investors may also take the form of an limited liability corporation (LLC) 2. May also hear the term Solar Power & Services Agreement 9

10 Who has signed Solar PPAs? City of San Diego Denver International Airport Port of Oakland Fresno State University Fresno Yosemite Airport City of Tucson Boulder County City of Boulder, CO Various California School Districts City of San Francisco CalTrans Montgomery County, MD Salt Lake County, UT Morris County, New Jersey City of Arvada, CO County of Broomfield, CO City of Rifle, CO Various California State University Campuses Denver Public Schools Various California water districts Los Angeles MTA NREL Nellis Air Force Base (NV) City of San Jose, CA Minneapolis, MN Many Others... Sources: websites of various solar developers, including; SunEdison, SolarPower Partners, Chevron Energy Services, Recurrent Energy Renewable Ventures, Westwood and SunPower. 10

11 Minneapolis Convention Center 11

12 Why enter into a PPA? Eliminate upfront capital cost Allows public entities to benefit from the tax credits Lock in long term, predictable electricity prices Transfers O&M to a third party Path to Ownership Various end of term options 500 kw $2.5 to 3 million Federal tax benefits ~ 55% 12

13 Some Caveats with the PPA Not free electricity And not always cheaper than current utility prices at the outset could be a deal-breaker Economics are tough for small projects unless you bundle Financing can be difficult these days. Investors looking for relatively clean transactions. Environmental attributes (RECs) remain with the system owner Green versus Brown Energy Be careful what you say about the system 3 rd Party Access to the property is necessary Transaction costs (time and money) can be high 13

14 PPA Resources Power Purchase Agreements Checklist for State and Local Governments. Solar Photovoltaic Financing: Deployment on Public Property by State and Local Governments. Financing Non-Residential Photovoltaic Projects: Options and Implications Rahus Institute Customer Guide to Solar Power Purchase Agreements (need to register but guide is free) Stoel Rives, LLP Law of Solar (free but need to register) SolarTech PPA and Lease Agreement templates Need to purchase (California law) 14

15 Hybrid structures NREL is a national laboratory of the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, operated by the Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC.

16 Some variations of 3 rd party financing 1. Municipal bonds with 3 rd party financing (Morris County, NJ) 2. New Market Tax Credits and 3 rd party financing (City of Denver) 3. Tax credits bonds + NMTC + 3rd party financing (Salt Lake County) 4. Grant funding + 3 rd party financing 1. Make loan to PPA Provider (Denver affordable housing project) 2. Buy down cost of electricity in PPA 16

17 Example from Morris County, NJ Transaction closed in February 2010 Municipal bond combined with a capital lease Add in a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) 3.2 MW from 19 facilities for 7 local governments Terms 15 Year PPA 1 st year price in PPA: $0.106/kWh 3% annual escalator SREC sharing agreement Savings to the County: $2 million Year 15 pricing will be $0.16/kWh which is the retail price today Sources: Somerset County, New Jersey Tioga Energy 17

18 Community Solutions NREL is a national laboratory of the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, operated by the Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC.

19 Community Projects What do we mean by Community Solutions Community Solar One PV system - many participants Various ownership and metering options Community Purchase Programs Many systems many participants Concept of a Group Buy 19

20 Guide to Community Solar Collaborative effort U.S. Department of Energy Solar America Communities program NREL Bonneville Environmental Foundation NWSEED IREC Stoel Rives, LLP. Focus Project Structures Tax and Legal Implications Case Studies Worksheets IREC Model Community Energy Rules Where to find it: U.S DOE s Solar America Communities website 20

21 Guide for Group Buy Programs The Solarize Handbook: A Guide for Community Aggregated Purchases of Residential Photovoltaic Installations Details Will be available on the Solar America Communities website (January 2011) Authored by NWSEED for the City of Portland under the auspices of the DOE s Solar America Communities program. Content Background on the Group Buy Concept Case Studies Lessons Learned and Considerations Step by Step How To Guidelines Additional Resources City of Portland, OR Solar Energy Program: Northwest Sustainable Energy for Economic Development (NWSEED): 21

22 The U.S. Department of Energy s National Renewable Energy Laboratory Contact Information Golden, Colorado 22

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