Browse Tag: solar

White House Announces “G.I. Bill For Solar Workers”

English: On 140 acres of unused land on Nellis...

Property managers, landlords, tenants wrestling with improvements, regulators, buyers and sellers — take note. Solar is absolutely the energy future for the United States.

Last month the Obama administration put a significant amount of federal muscle behind the push to modernize buildings in the United States with energy solutions that get away from fossil fuels. What’s new in this development is the funding for training a whopping 75,000 solar workers – using veterans in large part to expand that workforce.

Veterans are an excellent source of expertise for this program for a special reason.  The Defense Department has long understood that dependence upon fossil fuels creates a national strategic liability. It’s an ironic (and happy) fact that the people charged with protecting the US and its energy sources just don’t listen to the endless right wing noise machine that casts solar as some kind of elite tree-hugging plot instead of what it is — the future of energy.

Read the entire White House Fact Sheet here.

  • Training 75,000 Solar Workers: The Department of Energy (DOE) is announcing a goal to train 75,000 people to enter the solar workforce by 2020, some of whom will be veterans. This is an increase from the previous goal of training 50,000 solar workers by 2020 announced in May 2014. The new goal builds on the tremendous progress of DOE’s SunShot Initiative’s Solar Instructor Training Network, which includes 400 partnering community colleges across the country and has trained more than 1,000 certified solar instructors and nearly 30,000 students nationwide in the last five years.
  • Launching a Solar Ready Vets Program: DOE, in partnership with the Department of Defense (DOD), is launching a Solar Ready Vets program at 10 military bases across the country, including at Hill Air Force Base in Utah, which has already taken leadership by installing solar panels onsite. The program also includes participation from Camp Pendleton in California, Fort Carson in Colorado, and Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia, all which announced pilot initiatives earlier this year and are serving as a model for the Solar Ready Vets program.

 

  • The Solar Ready Vets program will train transitioning military service personnel to enter the solar workforce by joining with SunShot’s Solar Instructor Training Network and leveraging the DOD’s Skillbridge transition authority authorized by Congress in 2012. Consistent with the Vice-President’s job-driven training agenda, the program is based on the specific needs of high-growth solar employers, is tailored to build on the technician skills that veterans have acquired through their service, and incorporates work-based learning strategies. Service members will learn how to size and install solar panels, connect electricity to the grid, and interpret and comply with local building codes. This accelerated training will prepare them for careers in the solar industry as installers, sales representatives, system inspectors, and other solar-related occupations.

 

  • Utilizing the GI Bill for Solar Workforce Training: The Department of Veterans Affairs is committing to working with DOE and State Approving Agencies to achieve approval for GI Bill funding for DOE’s Solar Ready Vets initiative. Over time, this approval will enable more veterans across the country to use their GI Bill benefits to participate in this job-driven training program through local community colleges, where they will quickly learn the skills needed for good-paying jobs in the solar industry. Adding Solar Ready Vets will expand the existing network of programs providing service members and veterans opportunities to gain skills to enter the solar workforce through their GI Bill.

New Idea: Third-Party Solar Finance For Commercial Property

A photovoltaic (PV) module that is composed of...

With recent announcements by the White House reinvigorating solar energy goals through the Department of Energy’s SunShot initiative, the costs of solar are expected to continue their trend downwards to eventually meet those of conventionally generated electricity.  The most recent initiative makes it a goal for solar to get there by the end of this decade.

These goals don’t come only from government offices.  Laboratories too are leading the way: technological advances are also helping along the trend, as silicon may be able to be replaced as the main ingredient in solar panel construction.  A recent discovery that a light-absorbing material known for a century may work in solar panels and dramatically increase their efficiency has the industry talking.  Thanks to the combined developments, the cost per watt of solar-generated electricity may fall to the 10-20 cents per watt range where fossil fuel-generated electricity resides.

All that said, the opportunity for commercial space users to take advantage of these new technologies and for commercial landlords to convert their properties into energy-producing ones remains mired in the financial barriers and customs of an industry that views (and pays for) property improvements for multi-tenant buildings in very specific ways.  To answer the question of how the costs and benefits of solar improvements are apportioned usually needs to begin with how such improvements are paid for.

One California company says they have used real estate legal norms to address this problem. Working with a leading law firm, EPR Squared, a real estate firm specializes in cracking the tough problem of opening commercial rooftops to solar.  In solar improvement,  as with most other features of commercial property usage, the all-important capital source is the third party financier.  But the territory is new and forms and deals have little precedent to work with.  Establishing revenue flows on a tenant or space subdivision basis to cover construction costs and to apportion energy-generation benefit requires a new kind of real estate deal. EPR Squared says they’ve constructed such a boilerplate.

[…] 90 percent to 95 percent of commercial building rooftops remain essentially beyond the reach of third-party financing, according to real estate research firm data cited by Energy Producing Retail Realty, Inc. (EPR Squared, EPR^2) Founder/CEO Chris Pawlik.

“When you have a commercial building with multiple tenants,” Pawlik said, third parties “can’t technically finance those unless the owner takes it on, [and] commercial owners won’t do that.”

Third-party financiers, he explained, “can get an agreement signed or financing in place because they have the credit of the off-taker that takes care of the risk.” With a twenty-year commitment, third-party financiers have certainty that their loan will repaid.

But, Pawlik said, “owners typically own properties five to seven years and tenants are typically in properties five to ten years. You can’t have a ten- to twenty-year agreement in situations like that.”

EPR Squared’s idea is to create a real estate interest on the property and have it be a separate interest from the improvements and from the land.

 It is similar to agreements with property owners for cell tower and billboards, though, Pawlik stressed, the solar legal structure is not identical.

DLA Piper, which Pawlik called “the gold-standard, top-tier law firm” for commercial real estate, “has finalized the form documents we need to take to the owners to show them how this structure would work.”

EPR^2 has “a dozen or so deals in the pipeline with groups that have either portfolios of properties or single properties,” Pawlik said. The first deal, he explained, must be one that demonstrates to the 60,000 California real estate brokers, agents and mortgaging agents that “this is almost identical to a real estate transaction.” When they see commissions in it for themselves, he said, “we can really scale the idea and bring it to a size at which pension funds and insurance companies will start looking at it.”