New business-financing programs are beginning to surface as the state’s renewable energy credit program begins to ramp up.
To help businesses fund solar energy projects without any upfront installation costs, Encon, a solar energy system provider in Stratford, has partnered with GSG Leasing to offer flexible financing options.
Solar energy can significantly cut down on utility bills and pay off quickly through tax credits, but investing in a new solar energy system can be costly. By offering financing however, companies can see savings right away, said Glenn Cucinell, Encon’s solar energy division manager.
“You have a return on investment from day one,” Cucinell said. “From that day forward, it is just pure savings.”
Last summer the renewable energy credit program was signed into law, which allows Connecticut utility companies to buy renewable energy credits from businesses generating their own renewable energy. The program allows utilities to meet the state’s increasing renewable energy quota requirements as well as save money. It also encourages more small-scale renewable energy projects.
If a business’ project is chosen for either the zero or low-emissions renewable-energy credits programs, the company can then enter into a 15-year contract with Connecticut Light & Power or United Illuminating Co. to receive monthly payments for the renewable energy it generates.
Encon and GSG will begin moving forward with their financing program after UI and CL&P announce how much the credits will be worth, which is expected to occur later this month.
GSG, which has offices in New York City and Fairfield, will help companies, schools and government buildings interested in solar energy, navigate the credit application process and then offer unique financing to fit the businesses’ financial needs. Energy finance is the leasing company’s fastest growing division. Cucinell estimated the installation cost for a company is paid for by three or five years of utility bill savings.
Encon’s solar division launched May 2011 and has installed 24 systems to date. But with growing interest in solar, the company expects to be growing as fast as it’s able. Encon was named Energize Connecticut’s preferred installer for Westport and will be handling about 60 projects in just six months through one of Energize Connecticut’s initiatives.
Energize Connecticut is a new umbrella partnership among the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, Connecticut Energy Efficiency Fund and the Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority. This fall the organization will be launching a website for state residents and business owners to get more information about energy efficient and renewable energy programs available, including rebates and funding incentives.
The website will also offer residents and businesses a holistic approach to saving energy, said Bob Wall, CEFIA director of marketing and outreach.
Business owners shouldn’t just put solar panels on their buildings, Wall said, they need to think comprehensively about their energy use. Companies need to assess their building’s energy efficiency first and then they can determine energy requirements.