In Solar, Size Does Matter

During the first quarter of 2015, Borrego Solar rose one spot to No. 2 in Greentech Media’s U.S. PV Leaderboard rankings of U.S. commercial solar integrators and installers. We are thrilled to see our work pay off! But what does this really mean?

How does the size of a solar integrator impact the successful completion of a commercial-scale photovoltaic (PV) project built for a large-scale energy user, utility, or independent power producer (IPP)?

As Americans—and as a company that has grown from a single employee to one of the largest in its segment—we have a soft spot for small businesses. However, for those considering a solar project, the breadth of a company’s expertise in this market—one with rapidly evolving technology, regulatory and investor appetites—can mean the difference of getting your project completed or not. In essence, size matters in solar.

Four Reasons Why Size Matters:

1. Bringing Resources and Experience to Bear on Your Project

A solar installer’s ability to deliver value to the beneficiary of the system depends as much on its ability to craft the complete solution for the particular technical application and site and market challenges, as on the price of energy they can offer. Having engineering, development, financing, and construction teams backed by a large and diverse portfolio of projects enables a firm to bring the right resources and expertise to the table to effectively meet milestones, navigate challenges, call upon trusted partners and above all, put its customers’ needs first.

2. Reliable execution in a booming market

The solar industry is booming with tailwinds from reduced system costs, rising utility rates, and the looming specter of the investment tax credit (ITC) decreasing from 30% to 10% at the end of 2016 for non-residential projects. Companies both large and small are busy, but large companies are more able to manage growth and lock-in qualified subcontractors and procure scarce resources like PV modules, inverters, and racking for their project pipelines. They can do this because they bring an attractive and reliable stream of business to their partners that are facing the same influx of demand.

3. Risk Avoidance for the Life of the System

With size comes processes, procedures, tools, and quality controls that integrators use to increase operational efficiency. This aspect of why you choose one integrator over another isn’t sexy but it it is essential. Having a tried-and-true bankable company behind a project not only protects its customers and their projects, it protects the integrator itself, the investors, and other industry partners involved. While solar is reliable compared to other energy-generating technologies, the time horizon of the investment and/or contract demands you ensure that the company providing the solar energy system has the financial strength to stand behind its guarantees.

4. Preventative Maintenance

Along the lines of risk avoidance comes the operations and maintenance (O&M) of your solar asset. With larger firms, these services are often included in their offering, or can seamlessly be added without having to introduce new contract terms and conditions from a new vendor who doesn’t know the ins and outs of your project as well as the firm who designed and built it. Choosing the right O&M partner is important considering the long life span of a PV asset. It’s almost more important than identifying who builds your project in the first place, because keeping it healthy for more than 20 years is where the most variation in economic return is realized, and smaller firms don’t have the O&M capabilities needed.

Larger solar integrators with in-house O&M resources have the skills and experience to identify early warning symptoms and proactively repair and maintain your installation so it’s running optimally every sunshine-filled day. And should something go wrong, they can respond quickly to failure notifications. Remember, when your system is down, even for just one day, it can mean thousands of dollars in unrealized savings.

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