“Solar Project Dealmaker” is the best way to describe Chris Lord. He’s a lawyer, financial modeler, and builder of project teams. Hearing about his work helps you understand how big solar projects happen.
Below you’ll hear about a few projects Chris is working on right now. The clips are really short. They’ll help you visualize the people at the table and where opportunities lie. The Solar Executive MBA and Financial Modeling for Solar PV Projects are courses that teach you to do this work.
Lucrative SRECs in Washington D.C.
I always like to have a local project, so you don’t have to travel or worry about time zones when you’re scheduling calls. But I’ve got a very large DC project and they have the strongest SRECs in the country, meaning the most lucrative. And on this project, we could give the energy away for free and it’s still generating a double digit return.
They just need a tax equity partner. We’ll go out to market sometime in the next month or two I suspect. But you can imagine you know, tax equity partners are like, “Yeah, sure. We’ll do the usual tax equity, but we wanna share those SRECs!”
Managing a Fund, Financing Five Solar Projects in Hawaii
I’ve got a fund that I’ve been working on for a little while now for solar financing specializing in Hawaiian projects. And we’re hoping to get the projects that we’ve identified, lined up. Hopefully we’re going to be able to close those in the next month or so. And that’ll enable the projects to get completed this year.
And when you say you’ve got a fund, can you explain what that is?
Okay. So in the world of solar investment, you’ve got tax equity and cash equity, and you need the tax equity. That’s an investor who has a pays a lot of taxes and is looking for ways to shelter, income, and pay less in taxes and generate a return on the extra cash.
So the fund that we’re putting together would help finance solar projects for commercial businesses and the investors there’ll be two groups. As I said, there’s the tax investor who will get in a partnership flip structure will get the first five years of allocations in their favor for both cash and tax benefits.
And then on the cash side we’ll have cash equity investors who won’t get as much of a return. Their return is kind of backend loaded from year six on through the end of the project life. So putting together a portfolio of about five or so projects. For five different projects, five different sites.
And the idea is investors would have a diversified share of the portfolio. So a tax equity investor will have tax benefits from each of those five projects. We expect to have multiple tax equity investors. So each would get a proportional share, proportional talent, which they put in.
50MW Project with Native American Tribe
Another one I’ve got going is an interesting one where I’m working with a Native American Indian tribe. And they have a small energy business that they would like to expand, building on their brand. That business is focused on, let’s call them ESG goals, meaning that they want to be responsible partners and heal the earth, I think is the, is the best way to phrase it.
And so they’re looking at all manner of different types of projects that might help them grow that business. And the first one, they’ve connected with an indigenous tribe in the south Pacific who has a very interesting solar opportunity working with a very large multinational corporation and providing them energy.
And we would use a fairly substantial amount of land to generate anywhere from 15 to 50 megawatts. The first phase will be 15 and it ultimately it grow to 50. But it’s an interesting project because it’ll be a first for them. It is not going to be an easy project. And I’ve got a lot of contacts in the industry, as you can imagine, and I’ve been lucky enough to find one party, a very large international company, but with people I know who may be able to help us build that. But it’s also fun exploring, you know, this is just one initiative that they’re interested in. They’ve got three or four others and we’ll see where those go.