August 12, 2015 | No comments yet
Across the nation, schools are focusing efforts on sustainability and environmental stewardship as a source for education. From grade school to public and private universities, inspiring the future of sustainability professionals can be done inside and outside of the classroom.
As a leader within their community, Free Horizon Montessori School (FHMS) aims to inspire their pre-kindergarten through middle-school students to learn and grow as responsible global citizens. For nearly two years FHMS searched for a renewable energy solution for their school in Golden, CO without success. While their site is a great location for solar power, the administration struggled to identify the financial support necessary to fund the project. Without a public debt rating, opportunities similar to FHMS are notoriously difficult to finance due to uncertainty in project creditworthiness. This means that small-scale commercial facilities are often underserved and dismissed even after many years of maturity in the residential and utility solar sectors.
FHMS had selected Namaste Solar, a company with a local presence and strong track record to build their project, but both parties struggled to identify project financing. With the school’s solar rebate incentive reservation with Excel Energy in Colorado set to expire both FHMS and Namaste grew nervous that he project would become another victim to a lack of capital.
This incentive was imperative for the economics of this project and FHMS needed to get the project funded, built, and interconnected prior to August of 2015 to secure their rebate. With the clock ticking, FHMS and Namaste Solar reached out to Wiser Capital in February 2015.
In addition to being a small commercial project, and difficult to finance by its very nature, FHMS had an additional hurdle of not owning their property. FHMS leases their property. This means that the facility owner that signs the Site Lease, and the Power Purchase Agreement off-taker are two different entities. Typically, this dynamic could derail a project on its own.
Luckily Wiser Capital has expertise with both small commercial and non-owner occupied facilities. Wiser Capital was able to offer FHMS financing by using their innovative and proprietary web-based platform to identify principal risks and opportunities to communicate clearly with investors and support the financing of projects that have historically been ignored due to unclear creditworthiness.
Through Wiser Capital’s third-party financing and the skilled workmanship of Namaste Solar, FHMS was able to achieve their solar energy goals via a 171 KW roof-mounted solar array with no up-front capital. The project was also completed before the rebate reservation expired, meaning that combined, financing and construction took just six months. The solar array is projected to produce 246,753kWh per year, covering 86% of FHMS’s current electrical use.
With reduced operating costs, FHMS will be able to focus added funds on educational programs, classroom development, and student and faculty services. The 570-panel array serves as an educational opportunity in science, math, and environmental studies, benefitting current and future students as well as faculty. Plus, the renewable energy produced at FHMS will avert the emission of roughly 170 metric tons of CO2 per year- equivalent to annual emissions from 15.5 average U.S. homes.
With the assistance of Wiser Capital, FHMS was able to achieve their environmental and financial goals while displaying leadership for their students and community.
Wiser Capital looks forward to working with more schools and mid-scale commercial entities across the nation as investing opportunities arise alongside increased awareness regarding the bankability of solar projects in this underserved marketplace. If you’re interested in seeing if solar makes sense for you or a client, email us at Support@WiserCapital.com
About the Author: Brandon Kaysen is a research intern at Wiser Capital and student at UCSB’s Bren School of Environmental Science & Management. His pursuit of energy innovation and corporate environmental management has helped him establish a deep understanding of the built environment and sustainable technological advancement.