Commercial and industrial (C&I) properties are quickly becoming the preferred sites for community solar development. You know, those unused warehouse rooftops and office center parking lots. Those sites are perfect for solar development because they allow land to be preserved for other uses, all while enabling electricity to be deployed closer to where it is needed. State policies and incentive programs are starting to encourage more C&I solar development, and as a result, solar developers like BlueWave are looking for eligible properties to build on. All this equals a growing opportunity for corporations, building owners, and institutional real estate brokers to take advantage of solar. And with BlueWave’s new Commercial and Industrial (C&I) Solar Lease Program these groups can introduce a new revenue stream to their business, with no upfront cost.
BlueWave’s C&I Solar Lease Program
Solar site leases are not a new concept. BlueWave traditionally works with landowners to lease their property for ground-mounted solar projects on fields and landfills. Through these agreements we pay a pre-negotiated lease amount to the property owner each year, in exchange for the property owner hosting the solar project. These agreements are typically for 20 years with options to renew afterwards. Once a project is built, electricity is fed back into the utility’s electricity grid. As a community solar project, the property owner, tenants, and even nearby residents can subscribe to the project to reduce their electricity costs and support the proliferation of clean, renewable energy in their community.
As a vertically integrated developer, BlueWave handles all aspects of community solar projects, from permitting and construction, to marketing, billing, and execution of the energy contracts. For building owners, this means they only need to offer up their roof to participate. The solar projects essentially become tenants under rooftop solar leases, and owners see increased Net Operating Income (NOI) with limited additional management obligation.
BlueWave is a pioneer of community solar development, having built over 135 megawatts (MWs) of projects over the past 9+ years. This development experience along with our deep expertise in consumer solar finance makes us uniquely positioned to deliver a comprehensive and robust C&I product. With this experience comes rooted relationships with builders, manufacturers, and institutional investors which allow us to consistently deliver high quality projects on time. Furthermore, we have a large C&I installer network that we’ve grown through our consumer solar finance business and continue to work with to provide local project construction services.
While BlueWave has developed some rooftop arrays in the past, we are now heavily focusing on this market segment because policy and incentives are moving in this direction. Historically, many megawatts were installed in large fields which weren’t necessarily adjacent to where the solar energy was consumed. Policymakers want to shift focus towards installing where the grid infrastructure is more robust, and where there is a high demand for electricity. These conditions are often met in commercial or industrial areas where large rooftops and parking lots are abundant. The shift in policy focus means incentive programs are being targeted to C&I which allows us to develop financially feasible rooftop projects.
Furthermore, there is a growing trend in the corporate world towards ambitious renewable goals. At the time of publication, 200 companies of various sizes have made a commitment to go 100 percent renewable through RE100. And more and more we’re seeing public company investors push for social impact investing. There are many ways for these companies (and potential tenants) to achieve these goals, and C&I solar development will clearly be part of the mix.
Solar site leases are a great way for commercial and industrial property owners to access the benefits of solar without the responsibility of owning and maintaining their own solar system. Not only is solar good for the environment and local community, it’s good for the bottom line as well. By adding solar to your underutilized roof or parking lot you’re accessing a new revenue stream, while helping your tenants and other ratepayers in your community receive the benefits solar electricity.
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