There is a need for those who don’t have roof space associated with their living space, and who wish to contribute to the movement toward clean energy with their own hard-earned money, and thus we have community solar. Its a product that has grown significantly in recent years, and the revenue streams from these newly engaged customers help just a bit more solar power get built.
Pivot Energy‘s community solar software is a financially viable solution for community solar projects smaller than 1 MW DC, and that’s the reason this article is being written today. The company believes that by the end of 2019, it will be the #2 service offering in this space.
Developer sentiment in certain Northeast markets was that the revenue from community solar programs just weren’t worth it. The costs to run the programs were too high, the processes for managing the many off-takers were a bit too complex, and the finance companies weren’t keen on lending to lower-credit parties instead of the available investment grade corporations.
Then the Massachusetts SMART program launched, offering a 5¢/kWh adder for projects in the Community Solar program, for 20 years. Project developers saw the opportunity and began searches in earnest for the tools needed.
And since non-disclosure agreements (NDA) rule the world, it’s inappropriate to communicate all the pricing that one comes across. Suffice to say, starting in January of 2018, time was invested researching, financial models consulted, and negotiations were pushed that led to multiple software offerings being declined – and one even withdrawn as the market evolved – because 690 kW projects simply didn’t have enough cash flow to allow for heavy fixed costs.
In one deal, the 5¢/kWh turned into 4¢ when buyers got a discount, and 4¢ to less than 1¢/kWh for the owner after fees – leaving approximately $7,600 a year to manage the billing of 75 individual accounts, twelve times a year. The very respectful salespeople informed all of the realities of scale in the industry relative to project pricing, and starting around 2 MW of system sizes, the numbers start looking good.
The search continued for the sub-1 MW customer.
Then, on November 8, Pivot Energy announced the launch of their SunCentral platform. The company has developed the software for their own internal projects, of which they hold 22.4 MW in Colorado alone. Pivot Energy too saw that the market price for solutions were too high, and as all good entrepreneurs do, they offered the market a solution.
The software solution was priced with a per user logic – aligned with the amount of work done per account, versus simply taking a lot of money for the whale accounts. And while NDAs govern numbers released (though the Director of Business Development will communicate them quickly once the conversations start), lifetime pricing of the service ends well below a penny per kWh.
And so now, Seamus Woods, owner of Secure Storage, is seemingly financially appeased, awaiting an update from the catching up with the rush to the SMART program to verify revenue streams, and hoping to sign a contract with Pivot Energy.