Colorado State University
Colorado State University (CSU) is a leader in sustainable universities, including being the first institution to reach the AASHE STARS platinum rating. In 2014 before many universities were even considering solar energy CSU put out an RFP for solar energy development across its campus. Solaris Energy coordinated with a trusted solar installer partner to put together a winning proposal that led to a PPA for 6 rooftop solar systems. The project is now overseen by Solaris Energy's asset manager with the installer on-call for any service needs and years later is still producing at 90%+ and increasingly saving the University money due to a 0% escalation rate agreed upon in the PPA.
The project was so successful that in 2020 Solaris Energy and the same solar installer won a second RFP with CSU to develop and finance another 21 sites across the campus. The team was selected in large part due to our ability to be collaborative, communicative, and flexible on fairly complex projects and lengthy hierarchical approval processes often seen in the university and municipal sectors. The project also caught the attention of the international Green Building Initiative as a strong example of how solar can be a low-cost way to improve building sustainability. CSU, the installer, and Solaris Energy were asked to sit on a webinar panel to showcase their successful work over the years and explain how other organizations can chart the same path.
"We're happy to have [Solaris], they're a great partner."
- Carol Dollard, Energy Engineer, Colorado State University
City of San Rafael
The City of San Rafael had several critical goals that needed to be met for this solar project to be a success.
The City was especially concerned about ensuring this project would be a good financial decision. Solaris Energy and the development team allowed for a unique 2-phase PPA that allowed for savings on operational costs and the ability to lock in a low long-term electricity price that would ensure good use of taxpayer money. Cost savings and renewable energy to meet environmental goals together was a far easier financial picture for the City to accept. An upfront cash purchase or lease would have been more expensive and a heavier burden on staff. This is because the City can't take advantage of the federal tax credits on its own and would have had to develop without Solaris Energy's expertise and quality control.
Solaris Energy and partners worked hand-in-hand with the solar installer and City to select a site location at City Hall and its associated parking lot. The two sites allowed for car shading, a larger system, and good visibility in the community - key project ingredients the city was interested in. After a few design iterations, Solaris
Energy and partners determined that the carports aspect of the project would need to be uniquely designed for emergency vehicles and host several electric vehicle chargers. As a collaborative and responsive partner, the team quickly provided an amendment to the PPA contract that led to the necessary safety measures and the ability to promote the concept of "fueling your vehicle with the sun," all while keeping the construction timeline.
It was also important to the mayor that the project showcase steps in meeting climate and sustainability goals. Solaris and the installer made this a reality by including a dashboard in City Hall so residents could learn about the system on its roof. Solaris Energy also included the production and editing of a video that the City could use to promote the project's environmental benefits.
Ultimately, all partners agreed the project was a huge success and the City noted its appreciation for the extra care Solaris Energy gave the project.