MD DC DE VA Solar Energy Industries Association

Get to Know a Few of Our Solar Focus Sponsors: Strata Solar and Urban Grid

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Oct 17

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MDV-SEIA is pleased to be partnering with Strata Solar and Urban Grid as MW sponsors for the 11th annual Solar Focus conference. As key players in the solar industry, their support is an important addition to the sponsorship line-up of the Mid-Atlantic’s leading solar conference.

About Strata Solar

Strata Solar is a turn-key solar provider with over 1.2 GW of installed solar and more than 3.5 GW in the development pipeline. Strata is regularly ranked as one of the country’s leading provider of solar EPC and developers, with an increasing focus on third-party O&M services. Based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Strata has over 350 employees and multiple facilities across the U.S.

Q&A

What markets do you operate in?

Strata currently operates in 14 states, from California to the Carolinas and up to the Northeast. Strata has built more utility-scale solar projects than any other EPC, and we’re also building commercial rooftop projects for business across the country. Strata also supports rural coops and municipalities looking for sustainable distribution and transmission power options for their communities.

Tell us a little bit about your company, including how many MWs/GWs of solar is in your East Coast portfolio.

Strata was founded in 2008 by Markus and Cathy Wilhelm in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. What began as a small residential solar business quickly grew into the largest utility-scale solar company in the state, making North
Carolina #2 in the country for installed solar. Today Strata has installed more than 1.2GW with another 3.5GW in its development pipeline across utility, corporate and commercial markets. Strata offers a full range of in-house services, including development, financing and asset management, EPC, and operations and maintenance for utility and commercial customers.

What opportunities and challenges do you see for solar on the East Coast?

We expect to see continued challenges in regulatory policy that either will or won’t encourage the development of more solar on the east coast, but because we operate in multiple markets, Strata is positioned to endure any market uncertainties. Without a shared commitment between solar developers and regulators to advance policies that support renewable energy, it’s likely we’ll continue to encounter such challenges.

How does your company plan to be involved in influencing the solar industry over the next few years?

As one of the top solar providers in the nation, we are continuing to transform and reimagine solar for businesses, communities and utilities across the U.S. Strata is represented at all of the major industry events and sits at the table of nearly every regulatory meeting to ensure all parties are working together to make solar more accessible.

Solar jobs are now growing at a rate 17x faster than the overall economy and for the first time in history the solar industry employs more people than coal. Tell us a little about how the rate of solar job growth has impacted your business.

As a major employer of solar workers across the country, Strata recognizes that its most important asset is its people. We are proud to have a dedicated team of professionals who routinely exceed our customer’s expectations. We invest heavily in safety and skills training while recruiting a local workforce that creates sustainable jobs in the communities we serve. We are committed to creating jobs for veterans and transitioning service members, arming them with in-demand skills for continued opportunities. The growth of solar jobs translates into more opportunities for the people we train, and we’re encouraged by seeing the rate of growth continue to rise.

Has your company made any unique or innovative contributions to solar?

Strata Solar has been credited with bringing its home state of North Carolina to #2 in the country for installed solar. Structured as separate, unique businesses, Strata has the expertise to handle the specific requirements of
each phase of a project. While each business operates independently, our clients benefit from the knowledge sharing provided at each project stage. Strata’s vertical integration allows us to manage a solar project from origination to completion, including ongoing operations and maintenance. Our unique structure offers full service support for our customers, no matter the project stage. And our relationship with Tier 1 manufacturers provides customer confidence in the quality of our work.

Which policies, incentives, or regulatory changes have had the most impact on your business and what is missing that your company could benefit from?

Nearly all clean energy legislation affects our business in some way, which is why we’ve structured our market penetration such that we’re not limited by any specific policies or incentives. This year in North Carolina, HB589 was a big win for solar, although the moratorium on wind energy was a loss for our friends in that industry. We are proud of the fact that our business isn’t built on incentives, since those come and go, but Strata and the projects we deliver are here to stay.

Twitter: @StrataSolar


About Urban Grid

Urban Grid is a leading developer of utility-scale solar power plants in the Mid-Atlantic United States. With our extensive solar project development expertise, Urban Grid delivers solar energy projects that maximize value to our customers while limiting risk. We have relationships with several utility partners in the mid-Atlantic United States who value a diverse portfolio of power resources and desire to add solar generating assets to their mix.

Q&A

What markets do you operate in?

We currently operate in GA, VA, MD, DE, NJ, Washington DC, PA and NY, but are also continually reassessing strategic growth markets for the future.

Tell us a little bit about your company, including how many MWs/GWs of solar is in your East Coast portfolio.

Urban Grid is a developer of solar projects in the Mid-Atlantic United States. We develop both utility scale solar power plants, as well as distributed generation solar projects. Because we serve a broad spectrum of the industry, we believe we bring a unique perspective to the development process. For our DG projects, we have an internal investment group to own and operate those projects. This asset ownership perspective influences how we approach utility scale project development, where we understand how project owners approach transactions, and can maneuver those negotiations much more efficiently.

We have more than 250 MW of solar projects connected and online in MD, VA, DE, NM, NY, and the UK. Currently, we have more than 1200 MW of solar projects under development.

What opportunities and challenges do you see for solar on the East Coast?

There are a few challenges facing the solar industry in the next year that have the potential to really shape the direction of the industry. With challenges, also come opportunity. At the moment, the trade case is something that should be on the minds of all of us across the industry. The outcome of the case, and the extent of the remedy imposed, could have a major impact on the continued growth of our industry.

Another challenge will be determining what the future of solar markets look like on the East Coast. We are seeing states begin to revisit their original incentive structures, some moving away from Solar Renewable Energy Certificates, some opening the door for massive utility scale deployment, and others looking to re energize existing programs to better meet the needs of the industry. This time of change provides us the opportunity to help shape the future of the industry by getting involved in developing policy to ensure a healthy and robust solar market long into the future.

How does your company plan to be involved in influencing the solar industry over the next
few years?

Urban Grid employees have maintained active participation and will continue to contribute in local MD and VA solar industry working groups. Further, we plan to play an even more active role in the policy initiatives set forth by MDV-SEIA for the upcoming year.

Solar jobs are now growing at a rate of 17x faster than the overall economy and for the firs time in history the solar industry employs more people than coal. Tell us a little about how the rate of solar job growth has impacted your business.

Urban Grid has grown tremendously in the last few years and are currently seeking to hire more
employees. We are excited about the solar opportunities in front of us and hope to continue to hire
qualified individuals to contribute to the growth of the solar market.

Which policies, incentives, or regulatory changes have had the most impact on your business and what is missing that your company could benefit from?

We are excited to see what comes out of the 2018 legislative cycle in VA, MD and DE. All three states have ambitious policy goals that will have a direct impact on our business. VA has an opportunity to open up for an incredible increase in both utility scale and distributed generation solar projects. MD has the opportunity to fix the SREC market that has held the industry back over the last 2 years and return the state to a leader in solar deployment. DE has a chance to increase the amount of solar within the state as well, with an adjustment to their own RPS. All of these opportunities represent big potential for further growth of our industry.

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