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Fracking and Alternative Energy

Foley & Lardner LLP: Energy Innovation in the Northeast Boosts the Solar Market

By Samuel J. Scroggins

Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and New Jersey are pioneering some of the nation’s most interesting developments in the retail energy space today that have important implications for the solar industry.

In Massachusetts, the state has built an energy portfolio that now supplies 9% of electrical consumption from new renewable sources, including 600MW of installed solar. The state’s goal is to reach 1,600MW by 2020. New York is home to the largest solar farm on the east coast, a 37MW solar farm on Long Island, as well as the 17MW enXco Eastern Long Island Solar Project, which consists of seven solar projects. Further, New York is planning to build a 50MW solar farm on 250 acres of a closed land fill. As the solar market grows, so does market innovation and new approaches to retail energy.

One ground-breaking example of innovation in the solar market is a recent trend where solar companies are working with energy retailers and service providers to increase homeowner accessibility to solar energy. OneRoof Energy, Inc., a complete solar services provider and a wholly owned subsidiary of OneRoof Energy Group, Inc., along with one of the world’s largest energy providers and energy comparison shopping provider, Choose Energy and Think Energy (a retail electricity provider), formed a partnership in the deregulated energy market in Massachusetts that gives homeowners complete control over their electricity supply and delivery. Many solar systems installed on a residential house in the region cover about 70 percent of its electricity needs. The homeowner is then responsible for finding an alternative source of electricity for the left-over portion. Further, most entities installing solar panels and providing solar leases are not utilities. Through these partnerships, homeowners can have the solar panels installed, the solar lease financed and the left-over portion of electricity supplied via interactions with a sole point of contact. David Field, CEO of OneRoof Energy stated that the energy business is becoming like the telecommunications business, in that, “when AT&T sells you services, they will try to sell you voice, data – you name it. It’s bundled.”  This is, in part, because consumers are able to shop and compare energy provider’s rates and offerings in the 17 deregulated markets. NRG Residential Solar Solutions recently announced a similar type of bundled product in New Jersey and the market should expect to see more of these partnerships throughout the region.

In deregulated energy markets, the average consumer switches electricity providers every three years, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Because a solar lease typically lasts in excess of twenty years, the bundling approach gives electricity suppliers a new way to seamlessly diversify their product offerings with solar. Further, the bundling approach also provides consumers with long-term cost savings on their electricity bills and offers greater choice in what company provides their energy and their energy mix. This all leads to greater customer retention and value.

“This is an example of how progressive energy companies are putting the customer first, and giving them the choice and the savings they deserve and want,” said David Filed, president and CEO of OneRoof Energy. The technology-rich, solar leasing fulfillment platform is designed with ease of use in mind, allowing a broad spectrum of businesses to seamlessly sell solar. The new focus for retail energy companies is to create additional value for their customers by providing a platform for affordable renewable energy while at the same time leveraging a customer centric platform in order to increase their own sales opportunities.

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