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Santa Rosa Building Serves As Launchpad For New Commercial Solar Program

Santa Rosa building serves as launchpad for new commercial solar program

Santa Rosa building serves as launchpad for new commercial solar program
BY ROBERT DIGITALE THE PRESS DEMOCRAT on August 17, 2015, 7:41PM08/17/2015

A Los Angeles­ based company has put a solar electrical system on a Sonoma County commercial building using a new approach that financially rewards property owners and requires no upfront costs of tenants.

Energy­-Producing Retail Realty said its patent-­pending business method has the potential “to disrupt the commercial solar industry.” It provides benefits for all involved parties, something that can be lacking in other commercial solar financing models, the company said.

“When the landlord is not paying the energy bill, it can be a disincentive to finance solar,” said Andrew Cameron, the company’s managing director based in Santa Rosa.

Energy-­Producing Retail offers ongoing payments to owners who allow solar to be built on their properties. Tenants put no money down and can purchase the new power, typically saving 10 to 20 percent off their energy bills, said Cameron, one of the company’s four partners and a Healdsburg High grad.

And the returns on the solar project offer an “attractive” investment for investors, he said.

The four ­year old company released a statement Monday unveiling its Next Level Solar program, which was based upon an installation of a commercial building here.

Solar installations on homes and commercial properties are increasing nationwide as businesses develop new financing models. Both residential and commercial owners now take advantage of no ­money ­down leases or of Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) programs, where the solar system is financed through government­ approved programs and paid off on property tax bills.

But just as residential renters are less likely under such approaches to benefit from solar, so are commercial tenants. And a majority of commercial space is leased to tenants, rather than occupied by owners, Cameron said. His company estimates that California commercial properties represent a $100 billion market for solar projects.

Dale Dockins, owner of North Bay Commercial Real Estate in Santa Rosa, said the solar system Energy­ Producing Retail placed on one of his commercial buildings in Santa Rosa increased his building’s income and reduced his tenant’s energy bills “at no cost to either of us.”

“The tenants love it because they’re reducing their costs,” Dockins said.

As well, Dockins said, state law now requires owners to disclose the energy use of many commercial buildings to prospective tenants and buyers. Such disclosures will give an advantage to buildings with solar systems.

“It’s likely increasing the property value,” he said.

You can reach Staff Writer Robert Digitale at 521-­5285 or robert.digitale@pressdemocrat.com.

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