Story by Sara Carbone, CollectiveSun Content Marketing Manager
On December 2, CollectiveSun hosted a webinar with solar and storage software company Energy Toolbase. The webinar was titled Solar for Nonprofits – Winning Proposals with Energy Toolbase and CollectiveSun and was led by Matt Brennan, Vice President of Sales at CollectiveSun, and Matt Cimo, Western Regional Manager at Energy Toolbase.
The webinar looked at the benefits of working with both companies. It included an overview of their respective offerings as well as a deep dive exploration of ETB’s proposal tool when used with CollectiveSun’s program.
Financing a Solar System with CollectiveSun
After an introduction from CollectiveSun’s Marketing Manager Lindsay Harmon, Matt B kicked off the webinar by talking about how CollectiveSun helps a whole range of US nonprofits and tax-exempt organizations secure funding to go solar. He described CollectiveSun’s main offering, the Solar Power Agreement (SPA), as a prepaid service contract that is similar to a prepaid lease that passes the 12% or more tax like credit to the customer.
Matt B added the note that to add storage to the agreement, the system has to be ITC compliant: only electrons from solar are charging the batteries.
He then discussed where the “debt piece” or remaining 88% of the system installation cost would come from. He listed options to choose from as a C-PACE loan, cash reserves, donations, mission-aligned and traditional lenders, crowdlending, and impact investors.
Finally, Matt B walked through a number of examples of organizations that have worked with CollectiveSun over the years. One was Merced Country Club in California that funded their 315 kW system with an SPA and a C-PACE loan provided by a CollectiveSun partner, Greenworks Lending. He emphasized the point that country clubs are a great opportunity for installers if they are structured as a nonprofit. Another project was Sanford Burnham Presbys Medical Discover Institute which included rooftop and carport PV panels and a large storage component.
Two others were the Denver Public Schools, a solar system made possible from a single donation, and Vista Community Clinic, an organization that was awarded a SunForAll solar grant. Matt B explained that SunForAll is a fund that involves CollectiveSun combining their tax equity via the SPA with a donation and raising the balance in the form of a low interest loan provided by lead impact investor BQuest Foundation. He wrapped up by pointing out that even if there is a fairly complicated capital stack, Energy Toolbase’s platform can still model it.
Software Specializing in Saving Analysis for Solar + Storage
Matt Cimo went on to describe Energy Toolbase as a software company specializing in 1) calculating the avoidant cost analysis or savings of solar PV and energy storage projects and 2) providing software to operate energy storage In the field. He talked about how ETB works closely with a number of top renewable energy financiers in the industry.
Matt C provided a brief overview about how ETB works from initial project development, through integration of their Acumen EMS if energy storage is included, to ETB monitoring to track system performance in real time after system install. He touched on their Acumen Energy Management System, describing how it can be optimized case by case and across the country to provide optimized controls for storage.
He and Matt B then delved into a test case that had been built to showcase CollectiveSun’s program via Energy Toolbase’s platform, a program that can be dropped into the tool upon request so the customized options are available for modeling. The two men demonstrated how to build a proposal using a seven step progression. Highlights of the progression included how to use the tool to knock the 12% discount off the install price and include custom incentives, like small grants or state storage incentives. Both of them stressed the incredible flexibility of the tool when looking to customize a proposal.
Additionally, Matt C showed how to model for the solar PV and energy storage parts of a project. He highlighted the fact that there are many options that allow for seamless integration of energy storage into a project, given ETB’s integration with major industry players like Tesla, Delta, and CPS. Matt B then discussed how to add in the loan part of the financials which, in this test case, included a cash purchase option and a custom loan (C-PACE).
Matt C showed viewers how to generate and review the documents to understand the cash flow analysis of the two transactions to consider net cost and savings and demonstrate the difference when funding a project with CollectiveSun.
The webinar wrapped up with a Q&A that touched on topics like what the 12% discount will look like in 2021, costs for custom integration with storage, and the turn around time for processing a deal. Matt C unveiled a special offer available from ETB of a free extended trial period for new customers.
Thank you to Energy Toolbase for participating in this webinar with CollectiveSun.
“We’ve created some custom incentives so you can use our Solar Power Agreement, which makes it really convenient to do proposals in Energy Toolbase.”