In the Ask an Expert series, HeatSpring instructors and industry thought leaders answer a question on the minds of the HeatSpring community. We are joined by Dylan Reitenbach, Project Manager at a national solar developer and financier. 

In this session, Dylan answers the question – what are the biggest deal breakers when it comes to large scale solar projects? To check out Dylan’s response, you can either watch the video or read the transcript below.

Brit: I am here with Dylan Reitenbach. He is a project manager at a company that develops distributed generation and small scale utility projects. He is going to answer the question for us – what are the biggest deal breakers when it comes to large scale solar projects? 

Dylan: Thanks so much HeatSpring for having me on. I really appreciate it. I love talking about this stuff. I’ve been in the industry for almost eight years and construction and engineering about 10-15 years prior to that.

I work with a financer developer, like you said, and we build projects all across the country. We own and operate them for 25 to 30 year leases. 

There’s a lot of things that could go wrong and we see it all the time. Some of these issues are very minor and may not kill the project, but there are some deal breakers.

Obviously location, location, location! We’re looking for buildable land preferably without any wetlands. We’re also looking for proximity to substations and distribution. Transmission lines are a huge deal breaker for a piece of land we’re going to build on. 

There are also environmental issues – endangered species, historic preservation issues that might come about as well as wetlands, like I said. I’ve even worked on a site where there was a colony of prairie dogs, which thwarted the use of that specific location. 

Are deals dead? Sometimes not. There’s ways around all these problems. And that’s my job to assess with the diligence and capital markets teams to make sure that we have a buildable site and we can move on.

Another deal breaker – which is kind of a newer issue that we’re trying to navigate – is procurement. We are seeing unprecedented lead times these days with a lot of the large electrical equipment that we install. For example, like switchgear, which is a critical piece on the AC electric side that has recently gone to about a year plus for procurement, so we have to navigate what we’re using and what we can use. We’ll then determine if we’re able to PTO a project in time or if we’re going to be able to hit our financing goals or not. 

It’s incredibly difficult to navigate at times. All those factors are going to play into what is a deal breaker for a single site or a project.