Advice from a $20MM Solar PV Investor for Commercial Solar Installers = Focus on a Niche, Be Fast, and Standardize your Operations
This article is part of a series of tutorials, interviews and definitions around commercial solar financing. If you need to learn more about solar finance, click here to test drive our Solar MBA. In the Solar MBA students will complete financial modeling for a commercial solar project from start to finish with expert guidance. The class is limited to 50 students, but there are 30 discounted seats.
There are a few questions that solar EPCs and developers interested in the commercial solar market continuously ask me:
Our company’s sales are limited by finding investors for projects, but I can’t find them. How do we find investors and project finance capital for my projects?
What does a good project look like to investors? What is a creditworthy customer?
What should I focus my company’s time on, and what should the investor do?
How do I determine what I should install the project at and what is an appropriate PPA price to the customer?
The following is a 60+ minute interview with Noel Lafayette of Steep Hill Renewables. Noel runs a $20MM solar fund and is an active solar PV investor. He’s looking to finance and buy mid-market solar projects between 150kW and 1MW. Because he’s actively looking to buy projects and has deep experience in the solar industry, his insights are extremely actionable and valuable to any solar contractors looking to grow in the commercial market. He’s been developing and financing commercial solar projects since 2006. In total, he’s developed more than 50 MW of solar projects.
If you believe that selling, financing, and building projects between 100kW and 1MW is the future of your company or career, this interview is for you.
If you have a question for Noel, please leave it in the comment section of this article.
In this interview, you will learn
How most solar deals have 2, 3, or 4 “moving parts” and why investors can accept 1, maybe 2, but never 3.
Why policy should not steer property owners toward leasing but should let the market dictate the best ownership model.
Why there’s a huge opportunity and going to be a “roof grab” on roof projects between 200kW and 500kW in Massachusetts in the next 24 months.
Why you should be pricing your PPA energy price at a 20%+ discount to the customers’ current electric cost to sell projects. You might be able to sell projects at a 10%, but you’ll be able to sell much more at 20%.
A key sales strategy for dealing with more conservative or more speculative property owners. What happens when you let the customer keep their SRECs or not.
Why new EPCs should work directly with their financing partners when they’re selling projects to make sure they won’t lose money.
How to develop a relationship with a solar investor so working out the terms of a deal take 15 minutes on the phone and not weeks.