Author Archives: Chris Williams

About Chris Williams

Chris Williams works with HeatSpring developing products and managing online content. Chris is a NABCEP Certified Solar PV Installer and an IGSHPA Accredited Geothermal Installer. He has installed over 300kW of solar PV systems, tens of residential and commercial solar hot water systems and 50 tons of geothermal equipment. Chris is the Chairman of the Government Relations Committee of New England Geothermal Professional Association and he consults with renewable energy companies on sales, marketing and design.

How to Use Cheap Sensors and Mobile Phones to Make People Care About Energy Waste

Visibility of energy use is not enough to get people to change their actions, we still need to find a way to make people care to compel them to act.

At last week’s Cleanweb Hackathon in Boston, teams focused on combining hardware, software, and mobile devices to figure out how to make people care about regular energy issues. There were two pitches for lighting efficiency (LightOut) and water efficiency (Water Hero) that were particularly creative and compelling takes on how to make people address waste.

The format of the hackathon was simple: Participants pitched ideas and got onto teams on Saturday morning. On Sunday at 3:00 p.m. they presented their ideas and the progress that they had made to a panel of judges. Judges voted, some people win prizes.

One of the judges, Barun Singh, founder and CTO of Wegowise, commented,  “There were a lot of great ideas presented this weekend. The sign of something that’s good is that once you’ve heard the problem, you know it makes sense to address.” All of the teams focused on real energy problems that we face, but the winning teams focused on making people care about these issues. Another judge, Tony Barnes from EnergySavvy said, “and it’s not just about what makes sense to address. It’s also about getting people to care – and act. And that can be an even more difficult problem.”

Most energy issues are hard to solve because they matter when looked at on a large scale but are not costly enough at the individual level to spark action. Most people spend 10 times more on their phone bill than what they might waste in water each month.

The industry, and the hackathon teams, are learning that we need to re-address the same problems we all know exist with a focus on understanding and addressing what will make people care about changing their actions to solve the problem.

Two teams in particular were able to do this effectively: LightsOut and Water Hero.

The LightsOut pitch is simple: public shaming. Many public governments and private businesses keep a significant number of outdoor lights on during the day. It’s unnecessary and a waste of money. For their pitch, the LightsOut team walked around Somerville for 30 minutes and took more than 70 photos of outdoor lights that were on during the day. They calculated that for the city of Somerville, each street light cost ~$400 per year to run during the day. The LightsOut application gives regular people the ability to take a picture on their phone and report it. The application will aggregate all of the data, centrally display it, and report the problem.

Screen Shot 2014-04-08 at 1.13.32 PM

I love this take on efficiency because it uses PR. The lights by themselves don’t cost much for a corporation or government, but, since it’s a blatant waste of energy and cause of emissions that everyone can see, it could be a PR nightmare.

Water Hero took a similarly novel approach to water efficiency and it’s pure genius. They focused on eliminating the potential risk of water damage in properties. The byproduct of addressing water damage risk is that water efficiency can be addressed.

Water is cheap in the United States, unless you’re in a drought region. This is good for health and sanitary purposes but bad for efficiency. We waste 1 trillion gallons of water per year, but to each household it’s a very small amount. However, if you look at where water creates pain and damage in the economy for regular property owners, the answer is clear. Water damage. Water damage is the largest single claim that insurance companies have to pay out, totaling more than 24% of the 60 billion dollars of residential claims paid each year. Having water damage in a home is 4 times more common than a burglary and 7 times more common than theft.

Barnacle Alert via Text

Water Hero constantly measures the water use of a building and can detect a leak. If a leak is detected, it can automatically shut off the water to avoid damage and report these issues to the property owner’s mobile phone. See to the right what a sample text will look like in the event of a leak. This functioning application was built in just one weekend.

Paying a small yearly fee to eliminate water damage risk, which could also results in lower insurance costs, is a no-brainer for most risk-averse homeowners. Here’s the kicker: the benefit of monitoring a home for potential water leaks is reporting water use data all the time. Water bills come every 3 months, but Water Hero can report and send alerts for high water use on a continuous basis. In the sample report below, notice how you can see the water use through a single day, across many days, and in aggregate for a week or month. If there was a small leak, water would be running during the night. If there was a huge leak, the graph would shoot up and Water Hero would shut off the water and send a warning text.



This data gives property owners the ability to recognize and address smaller and continuous leaks, inefficient buildings, or tenants who are using a lot of water.

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The Most Common Solar PPA Modeling Mistake, The Fix, and a Free Tool

solar modelling

This article will address the most common error that developers and EPCs make when modeling commercial solar PPAs. The video below will discuss the problem, the solution, and provide a free tool you can download so you can work through the answer yourself.

If you’re a developer interested in developing and owning your own solar project, click here sign up for the one hour webinar that Chris Lord will be running tomorrow at 2pm EST. The event is titled “How Commercial Solar EPCs can Develop and Own Their Own Solar Projects”.

This article is part of a series common topics and questions that professionals have about financing commercial solar projects. Past topics include how to price the risk of cash equity vs tax equity in a partnership flip and how to calculate the buyout process of a PPA.

This lessons will be on the most common modeling mistakes that Chris Lord see’s developers make. Chris Lord runs a consulting practice called CapIron and is a co-teacher of the Solar MBA (next course starts on April 14th). Tomorrow, Friday April 11th at 2pm EST, Chris will be hosting a webinar that will teach solar developers the 5 key issues they need to understand to develop and own their own projects.

The modeling problem has to do with properly discounting the tax benefits of a project. The result of that problem is two-fold. First, it’s an obvious beginners mistakes. If you want to look like a professional, you need to make sure that you’re not doing this. Second, if you do it improperly, it inflates project returns, which can hurt you when the investor does their due diligence.

Note: If you want to see what Chris is doing, click on the FULL SCREEN button on the bottom right of the video. You can also download the tool Chris is using by entering your email at the bottom of the article. 

We all know the importance of understanding and modeling the economics of a solar project, but what is the most common and easily corrected modeling mistake you see Developers make?

Failing to properly discount the federal tax benefits in a transaction, particularly the ITC. Most show the ITC as a direct and immediate reduction of the Capital Cost of a Project. In effect, developer is asking the tax investor to buy the tax credit by paying $1 for every $1 dollar of tax credit. Developers want to pay a discount. Sometimes the discount is expressed as a price per dollar, but the best way to account for the cost is show the purchase price paid in year zero and the ITC recovered in year 1. This ensures that the ITC will be discounted at least one year by the Investor’s discount rate.

How would you handle depreciation? 

Answer: You take the available depreciation for each year – let’s say that is the excess depreciation beyond what is needed to shelter the project’s current income – calculate the value of that depreciation as the amount of tax savings that such excess depreciation will generate. For example, if you had in year 2 $110 of depreciation and $10 of project income, you would have $100 of excess depreciation. For an investor with enough other qualifying income to use that $100 of excess depreciation, the value is equal to the applicable tax rate times $100. At a 35% federal tax rate, that would mean $35 of value in year 2. Discount that back to year 0 to determine today’s value of that $100 of excess depreciation in year 2.

Download The Sample Model

Enter your email to download the model to help your calculate the value of the ITC and MACRS on commercial solar projects.
  • This is where email where the model will be sent.


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How to Price the Risk of Cash Equity vs Tax Equity Positions in Solar Partnership Flips

This article is part of a series common topics and questions that professionals have about financing commercial solar projects. Chris Lord of CapIron provided some insights into pricing certain types of investor risk in partnership flips. Chris is a co-teacher of our Solar MBA which starts on Monday April 14th. Chris will also be presenting a webinar on Friday the 11th titled “How Commercial Solar EPCs can Develop and Own their Own Solar Assets”.

Now onto the question.

In a partnership flip, just how much riskier is the Cash Equity position, compared to the Tax Equity position? How do you put an IRR or Discount on that?

In a partnership flip, the cash equity’s return is subordinated to the tax equity’s return. In other words, the lion’s share of all cash and tax benefits for a project are allocated to the tax equity, with only a small allocation to the cash equity. This continues until the tax equity achieves its target return. That target return could range from an upper single digit return for the best of the best projects, and more typically in the low to mid double digits for typical mid-sized DG projects. This allocation favoring tax equity could extend for anywhere from 3 to 10 years depending on the strength of the project’s economics. Only after the tax equity realizes its target return, does the allocation of cash (and tax) benefits swing back to strongly favor the cash investor. This means that cash equity returns are pushed back later into a project’s lifecycle, and that longer term and subordinated role mean a cash equity position is always “riskier” than a tax equity investor and ought to receive a return greater that than the tax equity investor.

How do you put an IRR or Discount on that?

Hard for a developer to put a price on it, but the real test is what kind of a return does the market require.

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How to Calculate the Buyout Price for Commercial Solar PPAs

This article is part of a series on common topics and questions that professionals have about financing commercial solar projects.

Chris Lord of CapIron provided some insights into pricing certain types of investor risk in partnership flips. Chris is a co-teacher of our Solar MBA which starts on Monday April 14th. On Friday April 11th, he will be presenting a titled “How Commercial Solar EPCs can Develop and Own their Own Solar Assets”.

Now onto the question.

How do you calculate a buyout price for your host customer if they want to purchase the system in Year 7 or Year 5?

You are trying to determine what an investor will want to sell the project for. An investor would take the remaining cash flows from the project for years 8 through the end of the PPA, and discount that stream back to Year 7 using the investor’s target IRR. This will give you an approximation or guide to what FMV might look like in year 7.

What about a residual? How does that play in?

Project sellers love residuals, but buyers never do. A residual value is a guess as to what a project might be worth at the end of the PPA term. For example, if a 20 year PPA had a renewable term, then it would be fair game. Or, if we have a utility scale project and the site lease goes beyond the PPA term, then there is potential value. The question of what that value is, of course, is hard to determine. Moreover, whatever value might be agreed upon, is then discounted back ten or 15 years, which further reduces its role in the ultimate determination of FMV. So, at the end of the day, you can make some residual values, but it is a bit of a guessing game.

What if you want to set the buyout price at the start of the PPA?

Well, that you cannot do if you are seeking to monetize the tax benefits. If there is a firm, fixed price buyout set as a specific dollar amount at the start of the PPA, the IRS might conclude that the tax equity investor is not a true owner of the system because they don’t have any “downside” risk. To determine whether a tax equity investor is truly an “owner” for tax purposes, the tax equity owner must be at risk for losses if the project proves not to be as valuable as the parties thought. Hence the IRS expects you to agree that an option can be exercised for a price equal to FMV, but that FMV price cannot actually be determined until the time of exercise.

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SolarPro, HeatSpring, Ryan Mayfield Launch Megawatt Solar Design Class

 The online technical training experts at HeatSpring have teamed up with photovoltaic design and instruction professional Ryan Mayfield and technical media specialists SolarPro to launch a 10-week online course in megawatt-scale solar PV system design. To learn more about the course, register for one of two premium webinars being offered:

The Megawatt Design class is a technically rigorous and challenging 10-week course. Click this link for a complete class description and to sign up or enter your email address to claim a $500 early bird discount available to the first 30 respondents only.

The course has been developed for professionals who are responsible for designing, specifying, permitting, and managing the construction of megawatt-scale large-commercial solar projects and who need to stay current on equipment selection, design, budgeting, and code compliance. It is tailored to professionals with previous experience in large-commercial PV system design as well as those seeking to expand into the commercial market from a base of experience in residential PV system design. Students will use computer aided drafting, industry specific design tools and spreadsheet tools to complete the course.

Graduates of the Megawatt Design class will:

  1. Submit a complete set of drawings, equipment, budget, code references, and calculations for an actual megawatt PV system design project.
  2. Understand how to design projects that are cost effective, structurally sound, high performance and code compliant.
  3. Understand the current best practices for line side connections, grounding, rapid shutdown, fire regulations, and other complex and common design challenges for large projects.
  4. Be confident that their permitting package will be Code compliant the first time.

Course Outline

  • Project Qualification: In this opening week, we will review best practices for technical sales on large-scale commercial projects. Topics include: Establish major project goals, array location possibilities, rooftop/carport/ground mount, roof loading considerations, electrical infrastructure.
  • Equipment Selection: In this module we dive deeply into equipment selection. Pricing and equipment change rapidly in our industry. We’ll make sure you’re up to speed on the latest thinking. Topics include: Product selection thresholds, first cost, warranty, manufacturer service, module considerations including warranties and PID, inverter considerations, dc-to-ac ratio, micro/string/central inverter options, tracked and fixed racking, and system BOS.
  • Site Selection: This week we’ll cover requirements and best practices for siting your projects, covering both ground mount and rooftop systems. Topics include: Permissible shading allowances and  grading requirements for ground mounted arrays.
  • Software Tools: What software should you use to design large commercial solar projects? We’ll review the available options and help you to get the most out of your current or future program of choice, enabling fast, efficient design.
  • Designing Systems for Different Criteria: Every system design requires trade-offs. This week will cover how to optimize your designs for different criteria and how to minimize the downside of the trade-offs you make. Topics include: Lowest first cost, maximized energy production and targeted energy production.
  • NEC Considerations: Code, Code, Code. We could spend the entire course covering code, but we’re going to assume everyone in this course has a firm grasp of the NEC. This week we’ll discuss some of the 2014 updates and nuanced details to help you make fewer mistakes and get your jobs permitted faster.
  • Fire Code Considerations: Large-commercial rooftop systems require an in-depth understanding of fire codes and techniques for coordinating with fire departments, inspectors and owners.2012  International Fire Code (IFC) requirements will be covered.
  • Operations & Maintenance: Develop a detailed O&M plan that can be refined and re-used on your next large-commercial PV project.
  • Permitting: How do you get your permitting done faster and cheaper? That’s the multi-million dollar question. In this module we’ll provide tips and tools for getting your projects permitted more easily than your competitors.
  • Capstone Project: Students will receive all the inputs for a large-commercial rooftop installation, and develop and submit drawings, equipment and budgets to get the project installed as quickly and inexpensively as possible without compromising performance. Data for the capstone project comes from a real job. We’ve masked the identity of the project, but you’ll get to see all of the choices that were made and discuss the pros and cons of each as you do the work of designing your own system.

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5 Keys for Greening Commercial Roofs

Dr. Jim Hoff currently serves as vice president of research for the Center for Environmental Innovation in Roofing in Washington, D.C., and president of TEGNOS Research Inc., a consulting organization dedicated to expanding understanding of the building envelope. He’s also the instructor of the upcoming “Commercial Roofing Boot Camp” — an advanced online design course that has been approved by RCI for 20 continuing education hours and by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) for 20 Learning Units.

In this interview, Dr. Hoff responded to readers’ most common questions about environmentally friendly, green, and sustainable roof systems.

Question 1: When I talk to building owners and architects who want a LEED building, the only thing they want to know about the roof is whether or not it’s white because white roofs get a LEED credit. Isn’t this a very shortsighted way to design and spec a roof?

Dr. Hoff: Yes, it is very shortsighted; and I’ll be the first to admit that changing the narrow focus on white roofs supported by the LEED heat island credit is very difficult. Probably the best tool available to improve the discussion about roof surface color is the RoofPoint program developed by the Center for Environmental Innovation in Roofing. RoofPoint recognizes the “greenness” of roofs using twenty three different credits, and only one of these credits addresses roof surface color. And even the roof surface color credit in RoofPoint allows the use of darker roofs in the coldest climates and also provides for other cool roof alternatives such as ballast in all climate zones. It’s a great program to help educate building owners and help demonstrate that you can be a valuable expert on the best in sustainable roofing practices.

Question 2: How can I go about integrating green into my business?

Dr. Hoff: I think it’s important to integrate green into your business in three basic ways. First, focus on one or two sustainable roofing strategies that could provide real value for your customers. As an example, if you reroof a lot of warehouses for a local developer, consider integrating daylighting – or skylights – into your roofing proposals. There are many excellent design tools available to help you get started, and the payback is very good, especially if you can integrate the skylights into the lighting controls. For businesses with high hot water needs, such as laundries, car washes, etc., rooftop solar thermal can also be a profitable add-on to the next reroofing project.

Next, look for ways to get your employees involved. Is there a company-wide policy regarding recycling? Do you emphasize that worker safety is just as green as any other green practice – after all green is fundamentally about people.

Finally, combine the one or two green sales strategies and green employee policies and start to reach out to the community. Instead of buying uniforms for a local ball team, consider what you could do to help your community save energy and reduce waste – and when you do it will only help promote your own green practices and increase your reputation as a sustainable business.

Question 3: I like green as in sustainable, but I also like green as in profit. How can I turn sustainable practices into the kind of green my bank accepts for deposit?

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[Interview] How to Provide Solar Financing to Any Non-Profit Solar Project Larger Than 50kW

solar crowdfunding

Lee Barken and his team at Collective Sun have figured out the holy grail of commercial solar financing.

Collective Sun can provide solar financing to non-profit solar projects from 50kW and up. Currently, they’re offering their product in California but are interested in doing the securities and legal work to open up shop in other states, if there is a non-profit that has serious interest in working with them.

Listen to the interview below to learn more about Collective Sun (CS) and how, specifically, their underwriting process is different than a traditional investor. Their key advantage is their unique underwriting process. It’s a really interesting strategy. Their process has more to do with selecting investors that see specific non-profits as low risk, rather than finding the non-profits that meet the stringent constraints of a tradition solar investor’s risk profile.

Why focus on non-profits?

There are several reasons why there has been such focus on non-profit clients.

  1. Non-profits operate on small budgets and they always need cash. Having lower and predictable operating expenses is very valuable to these organizations. It’s an easy sell to get your foot in the door.
  2. Non-profits have a social mission that tends to fit well with solar.
  3. There’s A LOT of non-profits! So the potential target market is huge. According to NCCS, there are 1.4 million non-profits in the US. Figuring this problem out will result in a huge increase in sales for the firms that provide this service.
  4. They can’t purchase a system in cash, because they don’t have a tax appetite, so financing is a natural fit for them.

A few months ago, we did a live Q+A that was specifically on performing due diligence, using crowd-funding,  and finding investors for financing non-profit solar projects. You can see the 50 minutes of video answering 5 question here. If you want to learn how to finance commercial solar projects from start to finish including all of the legal contracts, financial modeling tools, click here to read more about Solar MBA that starts on Monday April 14th. You’ll walk through the financing of a project in 6 weeks. Click here to enter your email and get one of the 30 discounts to the class.

Listen to the Interview

In this interview, here’s what you’ll learn.

  • How many projects Collective Sun (CS) has financed.
  • The types of non-profits that CS is focused on.
  • The size of non-profit that CollectiveSun will work with.
  • The spark that made CS decide to focus on financing non-profits.
  • Lee Barken’s background and how that led him to CS.
  • Why financing non-profits is more than a tax problem.
  • How CS deals with non-profit risk by working with a very specific type of investor.

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5 Perspectives for Using Solar Subcontractors for Residential PV Installation

This is a guest post by Fred Paris. Fred teaches our 6 week Solar Startup Accelerator where students get the tools (budgeting, planning, pricing, project management) and business plan they need to start new solar business or solar division within an existing company, in 6 weeks. You can read more about the Solar startup class here. You can enter your email to get 1 of the 30 discounts available here. Fred is also hosting an awesome webinar on “How to Profitably Price Residential Solar” on Tuesday April 1st at 1pm EST. 

Enter Fred -

1. Define the Skills Needed of a Solar Subcontractor. 

To sell, design, and install PV without employees, you will need to work with subcontractors (subs) that have skills, tools, and construction savvy to implement PV projects to your specifications. Sounds a lot simpler than it is.

We sell, design. and install residential systems between 2 and 15kW. We need to hire three professional trades: electrician, roofer, and a general construction contractor. The electrician and roofer are required for most rooftop projects, while the construction contractor will work with the electrician for ground and pole mounts. We also use the construction contractor to reinforce trusses or roof rafters – as may be defined by a structural engineer.

Define the skills you need and specialize. Be careful of the subcontractor that says they can do it all. Perhaps they can, but as the PV project owner, you need to understand the detailed costs of the individual tasks. Only by understanding, the granularity of cost can you negotiate with contractors with clearly defined ‘scope of work’ statements.

2. Apply People Management skills

As the PV systems integrator, you may not have direct employees, but you will have vested interests in how the subs get along with each other. Having a clear scope of work is a good start, but you also need to see a working relationship develop between the subs. Subs need to work with each other ‘practically’ to determine that they will not be in each others way, and ‘financially’ to capitalize on such common needs as renting a lift. Both the electrician and the roofer might rent a single lift for roof top equipment and modules.

There is a need to recognize that installing rooftop solar energy requires ‘working on the roof’. There are good electricians that do not like high steep rooftops. In these instances, the roofer is ‘supervised’ by the electrician from a safe position or from the lift, bringing the electrician into visual and audible range of the roofer.

It is important the subs know how to work with each other and the management skills of the PV integrator is critical.  Help the contractors work with each other. Make sure they understand the scope of their individual tasks and how they integrate with the other trades. If your trades cannot work together, or are having inter-trade conflicts, find a new mix of subs.

Beyond the roofer and electrician, you will need access to general construction.  A general construction crew will build all the reinforcement for ground systems, ballast, or foundation, and will install pole-mounted systems. This contractor installs any rafters and truss reinforcement that may be required on a project.

The electrician is always positioned as the primary trade. The licensed electrician will often be the point of contact for rebate communication and relations with the state.

3. Define the Scope of Work

You will get to a point where you can call your electrician and say something as simple as: “Hi Joe, I have a new 7500 watt rooftop system going in downtown. They have 200 Amp service and I am planning on two inverters. When can you look at the project for me?”  You then make the same call to the roofer.

After a few projects the electrician and roofer know where one trade stops and the other starts.  For rooftop projects, the roofer and the electrician work it out to see who will install the mounting system and modules. In some instances, the roofer will install the mounting system and the electrician the modules. Understanding the details of work for each of the trades can avoid misunderstanding or ‘change of scope charges’

It’s key that you provide a very specific and detailed scope of work for each party involved and a process to verify that the work was done, and done how it was specified.

4. Make Payment Arrangements and Cash-flow Management

You need to be right up front with your subs about when they can be expected to be paid and how much. As the PV System provider, you may likely arrange a three-payment schedule with your customer. Perhaps you get some money up front, a payment when construction begins, and a final check when the system is turned on and all documentation completed.

That incoming revenue is part of your project cash flow. The other part is what is being paid out for hardware and services. Tracking “Cash Flow” on a project basis and plotting the payments to subs when they expect to be paid is important. Your payment arrangements with the customer need to cover hardware, software, labor, and fees. Your cash flow objective is to stay on top and in the green.  This is cash-flow management.

5 Document all Insurance

As we hire subcontractors (subs) you need to be sure they have the proper insurance coverage.  You need to ask the contractor for proof of liability insurance and workmen’s compensation coverage.  In many jurisdictions, if the subcontractor does not have workmen’s compensation you may be required to pay a premium for the people on your project.

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Part 1 – Loopholes. A step by step story of a 14.25kW community solar project in Maine


This is the first article in what will become a series about a 14.25kW community solar project that I’m building in Maine for my friends. In Maine, community solar is technically allowed, but the regulations around it make it functionally impossible.  But, there’s a nice loop hole that does make it possible.

This article will briefly explain the project details, the economics, and the loop hole that I found that allows for a community solar project. In following articles I’ll share the three line diagram, specific equipment bills of materials and costs, a video walkthrough of the installation.

Experienced solar professionals will chuckle at the loop I’ve found and laugh at the maze of policy craziness that we still have to go through. Professionals that are new to the solar industry will find the methodical step by step process with pictures, tools, very specific examples to be very useful. If you’re brand new, I’m not going to go over the details of a lot of the definitions, so you want to to read some basics before reading this. Don’t worry, I have you covered. If you need technical information start reading this article on Basic Solar Terms, if you need to understand the financial terms that I’m using, start with Finance 101 for Renewable Energy Professionals then move on to Finance 101 for Solar Professionals. If you’re looking to start a solar business, download the solar startup guide. Lastly, if you’re looking to write your solar business plan, get all of the quoting and project management tools that you need, click here to get a discount on our Solar Startup Accelerator.

The background – The Building and the Situation

  •  I’m doing this project for super close friends in Maine. They own a farm and two separate building in Monroe, Maine. I no longer work in the field doing EPC work, so my rule now is that I’ll only do this work for family and friend that I really like, for free. This way it’s a gift (a pretty badass one at that!) and not a chore.
  • They are farmers that are committed to reducing any and all fossil fuel use. While Maine has a relatively clean electricity supply, thanks to hydro, solar is even cleaner.
  • They have a lot of land, so I expect to be electrifying their cars and trackers over the next 5 to 10 years with ground mounted solar.
  • They own their land and plan on living there for the rest of their life. Also, being farmers they’re used to thinking really long term anyway.
  • We’ll be doing all of the work ourselves. This impacts equipment selection, because we want the simplest possible installation. But it will also impact economics. We’ll be able to get gross installed costs at around $2/watt and and get net installed costs after the ITC to 30% less of that. I will provide in-depth cost analysis in follow up posts.
  • The system will produce around 19MWh AC per year. At $160 per MWh ($.16/kWh) that’s around $3,040 of electric production per year. I’ll show a more in-depth PV watts analysis later as well.

The Policy Landscape in Maine. This is where the fun starts.

In the past Maine had a small cash grant program but this has lapsed and not been renewed. Systems are still being installed due the drop in equipment costs, labor costs being very cheap and expensive power.

Maine has a community solar pilot project program. At first, thought “perfect!”, we want to do a community solar project and it could fit into the program. The program provided an addition $.10/kWh payment so it would have made the economics amazing. So, I called the Maine PUC and tried to get an application into the program. The specific program was created under Chapter 325. You can read more about and download the project specifications here, just looked for Chapter 325 and download the word document.

It’s turns out the program is not so easy to use and was almost filled out. However, the gentleman that I spoke with told me that under Maine’s Net Energy Billing legislation “share ownership” is allowed. You can read more about the Net Billing Legislation from Central Maine Power here.

You can read more about the Maine’s shared ownership here. Here’s the basics

  • “Shared ownership” allows for community net metering, where several people invest in an eligible system and are therefore allowed to benefit
  • Shared ownership customers must maintain ownership interest in an eligible facility. These customers share the responsibilities and costs of the facility and resulting proportional benefits. Up to 10 meters can be net metered against a single eligible facility. The shared ownership customers must designate one contact person to serve as the liaison between the owners and utility.

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Your Invitation –> NESEA Building Energy Trade Show Discount, Startup Alley, Building Energy Masters Series Meetup


Next week is the Building Energy Conference. I’m going to be there, and there’s going to be a lot of fun things happening. I’ve gone to the NESEA show ever year since I was 16, and my buddy Gilbert from Maine will be driving down. It will be fun to hang out with a bunch of industry friends and make some new ones.

If you want to connect at the show, feel free to send me a note at or come to the Building Energy Masters Series meetup.

I’m hosting a Building Energy Masters Series meetup, a few friends of mine will be manning their booths in “startup” alley (you can RSVP a time to meet with them below), and I have a trade show discount for you as a beloved HeatSpring reader.

NESEA Trade Show Floor Discount for HeatSpring Readers

  1. Here’s the discount code to get 50% off the trade show: HEATSPRINGBE14
  2. Click here, then click on register, then click on Trade Show Only Wed/Thursday at the bottom.

If you want to register for a full day session, you can do that here. If you are interested in high performance building from a design, construction, HVAC, or clean energy perspective and you’re based in New England these sessions are worth 10X their cost.

The tracks will be useful if:

  • You’re an experienced building professionals but want to get into high performance building.
  • You’re experienced in high performance building but and want to keep up to date on the newest trends and technologies.

Here are a few highlights. The BE sessions are amazing because it’s a member driven organization, so all of the tracks and sessions are based on what the members want to learn. This creates amazing quality.

Tuesday, March 4

Wednesday, March 5th and Thursday, March 6th

  • Residential Homes Track
  • In particular, Wednesday 2:oo to 3:30 p.m. – Energy Positive Homes in Devens (session by Carter Scott)
  • High Performance Mechanicals Track
  • Marc Rosenbaum is doing a session on heat pumps on Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
  • What the Pros Wanna Know Track Terry Brennan is doing a session on ventilation in commercial buildings that will be amazing, Wednesday 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
  • Fundamentals for Advanced Construction will be great for experienced professionals who are new to high performance building.
  • Wednesday from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. - There’s a session on transforming your business to a high performance business.
  • Thursday 10:30 a.m. to noon – Session on high performance HVAC taught by Andy Shapiro.
  • Renewable Thermal Policy Pipeline -Wednesday, March 5th from 2:00 to 3:30 p.m. I’ll be there.

Building Energy Master Series Meetup = Beers on Us!


What is it and who is it for: The Building Energy Masters Series meetup is for all BEMS alumni to get together and chat with each other and their instructors. It’s also open to any professionals who want to learn more. You can connect with the BEMS instructors, and we’ll also have some iPads out so you can see inside the course.

Date: Wednesday

Time: 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Location: Demo Stage 1

All alumni are invited and people that are interested in the subject. Beverages are on me. RSVP below so I know who you are.


Just let me know you're coming so I know how many drink tickets to make.

Meet 7 Companies at Startup alley

There are a number of new companies that will be presenting their new technologies. Here’s a list of who they are, a brief explanation of what they offer, and who they’re trying to connect with. If you want to schedule a time to talk with them, RSVP in the form below.

Location – They’ll be located at booth #420

RSVP a Time to Connect with Startup Alley Companies

RSVP a time to meet with the startup companies
  • It will be easier to connect at the show with phone.

1. Faze1


2. Ground Energy Support

Screen shot 2014-02-25 at 11.52.27 AM

  • Real time monitoring for geothermal heat pumps systems that eliminates risk for homeowners. The GES system verifies that GSHPs systems are operating efficiently and lets homeowners know the minute they are not.
  • Who should visit with them? Architects, engineers, project developers, and contractors who want to reduce risk.

3. Enmojo


  • Marketplace for homeowners to find the best deal on duct less air source heat pumps systems.
  • Who should come? Property owners who are looking to invest in air source heat pumps or contractors who are looking for leads.

4. Embue


  • A “check engine” light for your HVAC system that allows contractors to maintain and increase the value of their relationships with clients by providing real time HVAC-related updates.
  • Who should connect with them? Any HVAC contractor who wants to provide services that will make their clients love them.

5. CrowdComfort


  • CrowdComfort has a mobile application that allows people within a building to report on their comfort within that building. Facility managers can then use that data to increase the efficiency and comfort of the building for the people in it.
  • Who should connect with them? Any facility managers that are currently managing buildings and looking for a low-cost yet highly effective way to increase comfort in their buildings. Also, any engineers or other professionals who frequently work with facilities managers.  

6. 7AC

  • I believe that they have a new technology that makes existing HVAC systems more efficient, with a focus on commercial and industrial markets. 


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