A Power Purchase Agreement, or PPA, is a long-term contract to buy power from a specific energy provider. Solar PPAs are agreements between a provider and a customer to purchase on-going solar power at a long-term rate, often equal to or less than market rates.

PRESTON ROPER OF TIOGA ENERGY

Preston Roper | Tioga Energy

EarthToys Renewable Energy Article
A Power Purchase Agreement, or PPA, is a long-term contract to buy power from a specific energy provider. Solar PPAs are agreements between a provider and a customer to purchase on-going solar power at a long-term rate, often equal to or less than market rates.
EarthToys Interview - Going Solar with a PPA

Preston Roper
Executive Vice President, Corporate Development & Operations
Tioga Energy


Preston Roper is responsible for development, operations and marketing at Tioga Energy. He brings over two decades of experience leading innovative marketing and operations teams at high-growth technology companies, including Honeywell, NetDynamics (acquired by Sun Microsystems in 1998) and Synopsys (that issued an IPO in 1992). Roper holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering and a Master of Science degree in hardware-software co-design from Stanford University.

 

What is a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA)?
A Power Purchase Agreement, or PPA, is a long-term contract to buy power from a specific energy provider. Solar PPAs are agreements between a provider and a customer to purchase on-going solar power at a long-term rate, often equal to or less than market rates.

How does a PPA differ from a lease?
Leasing a solar electric system is another optional path to adopting solar energy. However, customers with leases must operate, maintain, clean and manage the system themselves—and connect it to the grid. In addition, leasing costs are fixed; you’ll pay the same monthly fee no matter what amount of energy your leased system generates. With a PPA you pay only for the energy our system generates, and, in addition to all installation and set-up, we manage the system’s maintenance and upkeep.

How long a period do the PPA contracts typically cover?
PPAs usually last from 10 to 20 years.

What kinds of organizations are PPAs right for?
PPAs are best for organizations that own their buildings or plan to occupy a building long term. Solar PPAs can work for long-term leases with some specific changes to the terms and conditions.
 
What are the benefits of PPAs for customers?
Under a PPA, a solar electric facility is installed on a customer’s roof without the customer needing to purchase any hardware -- making going solar as easy as paying a regular power bill.

Are there immediate and long term energy cost savings that can be realized by going Solar with a PPA?
The PPA’s electricity rate schedule is determined at the inception of the agreement. While terms vary from one PPA to another, Tioga Energy can often reduce upfront energy costs for the customer, particularly for “peak load” electricity consumed during times when organizations pay premiums for energy usage.  So-called “demand charges” – additional penalties paid for exceeding pre-defined limits – can also be significantly reduced via a solar installation. The PPA terms also include an annual escalation rate, which determines increases to solar-generated energy costs over the term of the agreement. Customers pay only for the solar electricity generated at the site.

Are there other benefits  that can be built into a PPA?
Yes.  Because electricity costs are known in advance for the life of the PPA, companies can better plan their operating expenses.  Most analysts, of course, predict faster-escalating energy costs, but with a PPA organizations are protected by fixed rate increases.

How quickly is the PPA model taking hold?
While precise figures are hard to come by, commercial, government and non-profit PPAs now represent over 60% of the non-residential solar market in California. Other attractive solar PV states are seeing similar adoption.

Why do you think PPAs are growing in popularity so quickly in the commercial sector?
I believe beyond the cost savings and the benefits of shifting towards greater energy independence, organizations are driven to do the “right thing”, be it utilities that are required by RPS standards or companies looking to meet green initiatives. Solar isn’t always about immediately saving money; it’s about community consciousness, commitment to environmental and geo-political stability and making a positive statement with respective constituent groups (e.g. customers, employees, shareholders).  A PPA provides a lower risk alternative to purchase to accomplish those goals.
 
What types of companies and sectors have the most interest in third-party ownership?
Organizations that own their own buildings are the ideal candidate. Facilitating equipment installation on a rooftop a customer owns, rather than leases, is simpler. Also solar PPAs are best for organizations that plan to occupy a building long term.  Solar PPAs can work for long-term leases with some specific changes to the terms and conditions.

What does the process entail for a company to go solar with a PPA?
As part of the PPA, Tioga Energy assesses, designs, engineers and installs a solar electric system on a customer’s rooftop or land; oversees installation of the solar facility; obtains regulatory certifications along with rebates and incentives; and owns and assumes responsibility for maintaining and monitoring the equipment and assuring peak system efficiency.

What responsibility does the company have in managing the solar power production?
Tioga Energy assigns a project manager to each customer to provide a single point of contact throughout the term of the PPA. This project manager handles planning and communication with Tioga installation partners, managing all aspects of design and installation as well as on-going maintenance. The customer need not worry about any performance or maintenance issues- all of the management of the solar system is provided by Tioga Energy.

How are PPAs financed and what are the benefits of their financing structure?
Solar PPAs are financed through debt and “tax equity” investors who benefit from various federal and state incentives and tax benefits. By efficiently providing those benefits to third-party investors, PPA providers are able to translate the associated lower capital costs into lower-cost solar electricity production, which is then produced and utilized at the PPA “host” site.

What experience do members of the Tioga Energy team bring to the table?
The Tioga Energy management team includes CEO Paul Detering, a serial entrepreneur in the energy and technology sector, Executive VP,Corporate Development and Operations Preston Roper, a renowned Silicon Valley technology industry executive with more than twenty years of experience leading innovative marketing and operations teams at high-growth technology companies, Vice President of Business Development and Finance Peter Nixon with 20 years of experience in the telecommunications and renewable energy spaces, Vice President of Sales and Marketing Matt Lugar, an 11 year solar industry professional who most recently managed sales and operations for the North American division of the world’s largest solar PV manufacturer, Sharp Corporation, and Vice President of Project Finance Kristian Hanelt, formerly of ArcLight Capital Partners, an energy infrastructure private equity fund with $4.6 billion under management.

What's behind the name “Tioga Energy”?
Tioga is a Native American word that means “where the path forks." We see Tioga Energy as the best path to renewable energy.

 

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