Going solar can be a fantastic investment and cost-saving measure for a wide array of businesses and organizations. From small auto repair shops, to farm operations, to large retailers and manufacturers, EFS Energy serves a range of commercial customers.
The benefits of going solar as a commercial entity are myriad – from meeting clean energy commitments and demonstrating industry leadership, to electricity bill savings, to the incentives (tax credits, bonus depreciation, state and utility incentives, and the list goes on). For many companies, going solar can be a financial no-brainer, with short term investments that reap long term value. But especially for small to medium-sized businesses, sometimes the upfront cost remaining after incentives can be a barrier.
Traditionally, commercial customers have had a few options to pay for a solar installation. Some purchase their systems outright or seek their own financing through their existing banking options. While some businesses may have access to their own favorable financing for a solar project, others want a simple, streamlined process with the benefits of a lender tailored to solar. And even for companies that do have the cash on hand to pay for a system up front, there may be other business investments that the money is better suited for.
Others utilize third-party ownership structures, like power purchase agreements, or PPAs. Power purchase agreements are an arrangement between a developer, who installs, owns and operates a solar energy system, and a customer, who hosts the system on their property. The customer purchases the electricity produced at a set rate for a predetermined period, ideally less than what they’re paying their utility.
Power purchase agreements can be a great way for businesses to access solar without upfront capital expenditures or ongoing maintenance costs, but most PPA developers won’t even touch projects that aren’t at least half a million dollars unless there are multiple sites involved. Many small to medium-sized businesses simply aren’t building solar projects that large. Additionally, working with a third party developer cuts into the overall savings generated by solar, as well as access to benefits like the investment tax credit.
Solar-specific commercial financing can hit that sweet spot for many businesses looking to go solar. With financing, businesses can see a positive cashflow on their solar energy system from day one, and take advantage of tax credits and other incentives. Similar to a business purchase of property or another large capital investment, financing frees up money to invest in things that grow your business directly, while achieving energy cost savings.
In years past, there weren’t many favorable solar financing options available, especially for smaller projects. But now, EFS Energy is proud to partner with Sunstone Credit to offer flexible solar financing for commercial projects of any size.
Sunstone offers 5 to 20 year loans to cover between $50,000 to $5M in project costs – running the gamut from mom and pop shops to small solar farms. It’s not just a polite gesture on the lower end of that project range, either; unlike most commercial solar financing, Sunstone specializes in projects in the $50,000 to $300,000 range, right where most distributed generation commercial customers fall.
Sunstone also allows customers to roll additional clean energy products into their solar loans – including energy storage, roof replacements, energy efficiency measures, EV charging stations and more. Sunstone can serve most any type of business, and even has options for non-profits, schools and other entities. EFS is excited to partner with Sunstone to provide more flexible commercial financing options than ever before.
While we’re on the topic of nonprofits, it’s worth mentioning Collective Sun as well. Collective Sun provides financing and third-party ownership options for nonprofits, including houses of worship, community medical facilities and schools. They are an excellent resource for organizations looking into solar, providing technical assistance and other support services. Plus, with the new Inflation Reduction Act direct pay incentive, Collective Sun is the go-to guide for navigating the changing financial world of solar for nonprofits.
Commercial and nonprofit solar financing can be an excellent option for organizations looking to go solar and own their energy systems while spreading the investment out over a longer term. Each commercial project is different, so we work with you to identify the best solutions for your needs. We’re pleased that commercial and nonprofit financing through Sunstone Credit and Collective Sun can be another set of tools in our belt.