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

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.

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.
Non-profits have a social mission that tends to fit well with solar.
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.
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.

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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March 30th, 2014|Categories: Financing, Solar, Solar Design & Installation, Solar Finance|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

How to Create a Solar PPA

Today the US solar market is booming–67% growth in 2010, according to SEIAs 2010 Solar Market Trends Report–easily the fastest growing industry in the US. In the US Solar photovoltaic market, there are largely two main obstacles to growth. The first is stable long-term policy and the second is financing.

More and more HeatSpring alumni, students and prospective students have begun to ask more about financing, and while we understand financing from a very broad level, we wanted solar financing experts to discuss many aspects related to financing. If you’re interested in writing an article for our series on solar financing, please email me at [email protected] We are confident that an installer’s ability to understand the various ownership structures and tax equity options, as well as structure PPAs and SRECs, will make them better able to develop projects.

If you’re very interested in learning more about financing commercial solar projects, I have three resources for you

Learn how to Finance Commercial Solar PPAs from A to Z Sign up for our Solar Executive MBA
Take a free course from our expert solar finance instructors Mastering Commercial Solar Finance
Access 60 minutes of videos answering 8 questions about best practices for financing commercial solar power purchase agreements.

The purpose of the series is to help small and medium size solar installers who are in a specific situation. Each article is written to help a small installer who has only been doing cash projects but suddenly have a large commercial installation that could be completed if only they could help the client with financing.

Our first article is about the development of solar PPAs from Heather South, who works with One Globe Renewables in Colorado.

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