Solar 2021

Policy, Education & Finance Track: Financing Clean Energy

Session Moderator: Sydney Lund

Despite continued cost declines, innovative financing programs can be influential at encouraging investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency. This session will review financing options and programs such as commercial PACE, leases, PPAs, green banks, and many others, which can make deploying clean energy projects more affordable for customers.


Aug 05 2021


2:15 pm - 3:45 pm


East Ballroom


  • Gerald Bernstein
    Gerald Bernstein
    Interfaith Power and Light

    Gerald Bernstein is Special Projects Manager at Interfaith Power and Light (IPL), a California-based non-profit mobilizing people of faith to act on climate change. In 20-years, IPL has grown to include 40 state chapters.
    For 30 years Mr. Bernstein provided consulting and research services to companies worldwide in the transportation and energy industries. In 2007, he changed careers to develop PV training programs at community colleges in California; simultaneously, he served as a regional manager in the Sunshot Solar Instructor Training Network. He’s been at IPL since 2017 where he provides support to congregations evaluating PV options.
    Presentation Title: Clean Energy Financing: How Houses of Worship Have Learned to Meet the Challenge

    Presentation Description: Congregations provide inspiration and behavioral role-models to their congregants and neighboring community. Congregational support for clean-energy projects stimulates others to move in the same direction. However, when it comes to implementing solar PV projects, congregations face two significant challenges: hesitancy of a “Green Team” or other interested group by the concern “we haven’t done this before and don’t know what to do,” and the financial concern “how can we install a PV system within our budget?”

    The presentation reviews ways that congregations are addressing these challenges, with emphasis on the latter. Both well-established and creative means of financing will be addressed. It is hoped that conversation about this topic will lead to additional alternatives being identified and shared.

  • Jared Leader
    Jared Leader
    Senior Manager, Research and Industry Strategy at Smart Electric Power Alliance - SEPA

    Jared is in the Advisory Services group at SEPA (Smart Electric Power Alliance). Jared is the staff lead for SEPA’s Microgrid Working Group and co-leads SEPA’s consulting engagement with the D.C. Public Service Commission. Prior to joining SEPA, Jared spent three years as a consultant at Arcadis US. Jared was responsible for the design, implementation, and management of several environmental programs for both municipal and commercial clients in the energy and water sectors. Jared earned his BS in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of Virginia and his MS in Energy Policy and Climate from Johns Hopkins University.

  • Patrick Thompson
    Patrick Thompson
    AppleSEEd Energy Transition

    A clean energy entrepreneur with a career including roles with high-tech companies and has moved from democratizing data to democratizing energy. Founder of Radiance Solar in GA. Earned undergraduate degrees from Mary Washington; a Computer Science degree, and an MBA in Sustainability from Green Mountain. Trained in NABCEP Solar PV and Solar Thermal. Certified in Government Contracting, LEED AP, Energy Management, and is a Lighting Efficiency Professional. Consults with global organizations on renewable energy, energy efficiency, and EV infrastructure. Executive Director of a non-profit, providing advisory services aimed at increasing inclusive investments towards a clean energy economy.
    Presentation Title: The Empowerment of Inclusive Financing

    Presentation Description: Our collective efforts toward altering energy choice and consumption may not matter if it only improves lives and economics for the organizations and consumers at the top of the pyramid. The largest impact will be for those at the bottom of the pyramid where barriers to change overshadow capability to move. Inclusive financing has the velocity to transform lives thru more affordable housing, better healthcare outcomes, improved living conditions, lowered noxious emissions, energy independence, self-reliance, engage local workforce growth, and lower energy burdens. Helping this segment help themselves now will help all of us.

  • Philippe Hartley
    Philippe Hartley
    CleanFinancing LLC

    Philippe founded CleanFinancing in 2014 to help accelerate financing for the small to medium commercial smart energy sector. A California-licensed general and electrical contractor, Philippe spent years running a solar design and installation company. He knows first-hand that financing can “make-or-break” a project. Since 2004, Philippe has overseen, sold, managed or financed thousands of solar projects at the residential, commercial and industrial level. Now focused on helping to make US building infrastructure smarter, he is a national expert on Commercial PACE financing, but his approach is to find the right financing solutions for any given project. “Today, it’s not about solar” says Philippe “it’s about efficiency: time, energy, productivity and financial efficiency”. This year he launched, an online marketplace for Commercial PACE project financing. Philippe is a regular guest writer on project finance for Renewable Energy World and Solar World magazines.

    Presentation Title: Funding Small-To-Medium ($50k to $5MM) Commercial and Industrial Solar Or Solar+ESS Projects.

    Presentation Description: We will review traditional and emerging solutions for financing C&I projects, as well as a successful approach that contractors and developers might take to integrate financing as part of the sale process. As the Biden administration gets ready to implement a $500 billion dollar upgrade to the US commercial building inventory, NAESCO (National Association of Energy Service Cos) tells us that 80% of that effort will involve small-to-medium building and projects, and that approximately 60% of those upgrades will need to be financed. Banks cannot finance solar in a cash-flow positive fashion; their short-term financing constricts amortization fatally. So what are the options? What do you need to know to pick the best one as you approach the client? Being prepared can make the difference between earning or losing a project contract.

  • Raphael Schiffman
    Raphael Schiffman
    New Energy Equity

    Raphael Schiffman drives development and financing of solar/storage projects and portfolios between 200kW and 10MW for New Energy Equity, a national solar developer and financier. Raphael began his career selling off-grid systems for the Real Goods Catalog in 2007. With RGS Energy, he piloted one of the industry’s earliest e-Sales programs. Before New Energy Equity, Raphael developed community solar gardens with Clean Energy Collective. Since 2013, New Energy Equity has forged industry-leading development partnerships and offered competitive PPA financing. The company is on track to transact over 400MW of solar assets equal to approximately $500M in capital by year end.
    Presentation Title: “Finance Aware” Project Development for Successful Commercial PPA Financing

    Presentation Description: Being “finance aware” from the start of every project gives developers and EPCs the flexibility to pivot to a PPA proposal if necessary, creating a triple win for themselves, their customer, and investor. Commercial PPA financing is a critical piece of the puzzle for developers and EPCs who want to broaden their customer base beyond cash deals only. Having the ability to develop and build “investment grade” projects allows for the expansion of client base to include non-profits, churches, schools, municipalities, and any other entity that is not a good fit for cash deals.

  • Ravi Malhotra
    Ravi Malhotra

    ICAST, the International Center for Appropriate and Sustainable Technology, is a spinoff from the University of Colorado and a non-profit focused on providing clean, energy efficient and renewable energy alternatives to the low-income community. Ravi Malhotra, Founder and President, is an experienced engineer and social entrepreneur who has established a variety of enterprises in India, Africa and the US with an emphasis on sustainable technologies. He is currently focused on finding financially sustainable models to solve the U.S. affordable housing crisis while tackling climate change.

    SEPA, the Smart Electric Power Alliance, is a non-profit organization guiding electric power industry stakeholders into the clean energy future through regulatory and policy research, education, and advisory services. Jared Leader is SEPA Manager of Industry Strategy and a member of ICAST’s Solar Advisory Board.
    Presentation Title: Financial Hurdles to Financing Community Solar for Low Income Residents

    Presentation Description: Low-income households are an underserved market when it comes to accessing renewable energy and energy efficiency solutions which could improve their health and well-being while lowering their energy bills and reducing their contributions to greenhouse gases. Financing low-income community solar projects remains a major barrier, as well as programmatic and regulatory hurdles faced by utilities, investors, and developers. This presentation will briefly summarize ICAST and SEPA’s research into financing and policy hurdles and how they can be overcome to bring shared solar to low-income communities across the country.

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