Innovative Financing for Renewable Energy

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Purpose of the project:

We investigated a number of sustainability strategies at the Weston Corporate Center, as part of our LEED Platinum certification objective. One of the key project goals was to reduce energy consumption through efficient systems and technologies, with a focus on renewable, non-polluting opportunities. An evaluation of the feasibility of photovoltaic panels indicated that it would be a viable solution for the project, if the capital costs were drastically reduced. To make solar energy an achievable strategy, Boston Properties partnered with a solar provider and the local utility company to develop an innovative project financing approach.

 

Approach:

Weston Corporate Center is a landmark LEED Platinum building in our Boston region. The 110 kW photo-voltaic array is one of many impressive sustainable features. It is the largest privately owned, ground mounted solar array in Massachusetts and represents a partnership success story. Boston Properties partnered with Nexamp, a turnkey solar provider that assumed all costs for installation and committed to providing 20 years of maintenance, at which time they would enter into negotiations for a buy-out by the asset owner. The agreement results in pass-through utility savings pegged to current rates to ensure that we recognize continuous savings. Additionally, the local electricity company, NSTAR, offered a per-kWh incentive for any excess production.

This approach ensures that all parties benefit:

-Boston Properties and its tenants have no up-front costs, reduced utility expenses, and the solar array contributes to CSR goals.

-Nexamp, the turnkey solar provider, experiences a payback of fewer than two years, and then earns $0.10-0.12/kWh, based on current utility rates.

-NSTAR, the local utility, reduces the load on its infrastruc-ture, and has a successful example for future projects.

 

Results:

In the first year of operation, the solar array has been a tremendous success. The array generates enough clean energy to supply all the building’s needs, with excess energy fed back into the grid for a net metering credit. The array production exceeded the project’s demand in 11 out of 12 months, for a total of more than 92,000 kWh of excess energy fed back into the utility’s grid, with utility savings credited at $0.096/kWh. Additionally, electricity is provided to the property at $0.02/kWh less than current standard rate. Total annual savings are approximately $11,500. The solar array has eliminated more than 100 tons of carbon emissions from Weston Corporate Center, and has established a positive precedent for future solar array development partnerships in Massachusetts. Finally, the solar array contributed to the property’s tremendous achievement of LEED Platinum certification!

“We are thrilled to partner with a local utility and solar provider for our solar array at Weston Corporate Center. The installation has been a tremendous success utilizing renewable energy sources to both reduce our carbon emissions and energy cost and contributing to our achievement of a LEED Platinum certification.” - Mike LaBelle, Chief Financial Officer