The Pipelines Panel Synopsis
The second panel was called The Pipelines and featured Eric Paul, Executive Director of Origination, for Nautilus Solar, Garret Peterson, SVP of Project Development, for Pivot Energy, Peggy Flannery, principal investment team Generate and Eric Cohen, Managing Director of Fifth Third.
Moderated by Jon Berke, the panel focused around topics which centered on M&A and financing, portfolio and project level trends, supply chain issues, subscriber management and the different types of offtakers entering the community solar space.
Generate has been an active investor in community solar, including leading a round of funding in Nexamp last August. Earlier in the summer, Pivot was acquired by Energy Capital Partners (ECP). Both Ms. Flannery and Mr. Peterson shared their respective experiences in their respective roles in the M&A chain.
“You're seeing a lot of developers who are starting to transition from a develop-and-flip model to an asset-ownership model,” Flannery said. “I've been working in the industry now, in solar, for over a decade. And that has been something that you have seen developers aim to do over time, but this year is really the first year where I've seen that really come to fruition in a big way.”
Mr. Peterson talked about the changes that he has observed at Pivot
What it has done for us is allowed us to focus more on M&A and strategic partnerships to bring in some of the smaller portfolios in the market. But it's also changed what we do from an owner-operator perspective and our cost of capital,” Peterson said. “And projects that potentially did not work under a develop-and-flip model, in a highly competitive environment now can sit on our books as viable projects. So it really has … opened the door of what we're able to do from a financing perspective, and what we're adding to our balance sheet.”
Later on, Mr. Paul of Nautilus Solar, were among the panelists making some observations on supply chain issues.
Even with increased interest and money in the field, supply chain disruptions have been a growing risk for developers looking to build new community solar assets. No one in the industry has been immune to the risks, according to Eric Paul, Executive Director at Nautilus Solar.
There are issues “across the board,” from modules and rackings to inverters and transformers, Paul said. Built-in flexibility will be key to weathering supply chain risks, he said.
“And a lot of this has necessitated (a change in how) we look at this, on how it impacts pipelines and our ability to acquire projects from our development partners,” Paul said. “It's really, ‘how do you kind of build that partnership and have that flexibility in there?’ We have seen timelines slip … we have had to change module providers based off of ones that we feel like can actually stand up and meet the terms and conditions that they have laid out. So it really is having flexibility and having a kind of procurement team that knows how to work with the current market conditions, which is challenging.”
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