If you could save money for the next 25-30 years on electricity costs, would you? This may seem like an obvious “yes” to such a question, but many people are not taking advantage of this opportunity. Luckily for us, we have a subject matter expert in-house to share all of her Solar Power knowledge, so you too, can start saving money now on your next real estate investment.
Q & A with Angie N. Frandrup and Caspian Group’s Marketing Director, Molly Kayfes
Angie N. Frandrup is a LEED accredited professional and a licensed commercial real estate broker. She currently is a Director at Caspian Group and Solar Developer with Winkelman Solar Developers.
Angie has been in commercial real estate in Minnesota since 2004, and has been a licensed commercial real estate broker since 2011. She began her commercial real estate career at CBRE for eight years and then boutique firms for a number of years prior to joining Caspian Group.
Her focus is providing Solar Development services including Solar Design, Site Plans, Cash Flow Estimates, and Solar Panels for commercial real estate owners and investors. She provides added value regarding solar and incorporates it into her brokerage practice which includes Investment Sale Services, Buyer and Seller Representation, Disposition Services, as well as Portfolio Optimization and Site Selection through Tenant and Landlord Representation.
What’s your experience with Solar Power and when did you first get into the industry?
Angie: The solar industry started taking off in the United States in 2012 and 2013 due in large part, because of the federal tax incentive programs that made the investment more financially feasible. Since then, private incentives have also become a part of the equation as well as grant programs for specific industries and demographics. I started a business called Green Designs and Supply in 2008 – 2012 that was tailored for the commercial real estate industry for Leadership in Energy and Environmentally Designed (LEED) Certified projects by providing sustainable building materials (including solar panels) and consulting services.
Did you see a gap to be filled within the industry?
Absolutely I did! With plenty of brokers in MN competing for business leasing or selling real property, I saw all the vacant rooftops on commercial properties as an underserved market. The wasted space on commercial rooftops can be producing another income stream from solar power. When property owners and brokers make that connection, a light goes off (literally and figuratively)!
In layman’s terms, how would you describe Solar Power/Solar Energy to a novice?
Electricity or power obtained by harnessing the energy of the sun’s rays.
How does it work/what’s the process for storing solar energy?
There are a variety of ways to make solar power work for your property. In the ideal scenario, you would have either a flat roof or excess land to work with and a utility provider with clean energy incentives for the solar investor. Xcel Energy territory is a great example of that. Xcel has programs like Solar Rewards or Xcel Energy’s Capacity Credit’s that pay investors on a per kWh basis of their production, an annual check ($) just to participate in their program, and it’s a sizable amount if it’s a sizable system!
By connecting to the grid, you also don’t have to worry about ‘storing energy’, you produce electricity, the power company buys it from you at a predetermined rate per kWh, and when you need electricity you buy it back from the grid.
If you want to be totally off grid, you invest in a large battery system like one that Tesla has. In this scenario, you are not buying and selling electricity, instead you are off grid and the battery is charged from the solar system when the sun is shining and then kicks in at night or other times when the sun is not shining. The sun can actually produce MORE electricity than ANY other energy source on Earth! It produces 173,000 Terawatts (trillions of watts) continuously, which is 10,000 times more than what the human race currently requires!
What are the benefits of investing in Solar Power for CRE?
There are many benefits of investing in Solar Power for Commercial Real Estate. Here are a few of my top reasons to do this now:
- Use wasted space either on a rooftop or available land to create another income stream.
- A major portion of the solar system cost is paid for by taking advantage of utility rebates and special depreciation or cost recovery systems and a federal solar 30% Investment Tax Credit (ITC).
- There is also a Production Tax Credit (PTC) for passive income investors, however the IRS does not allow you to utilize both the ITC and PTC for one project.
- After the solar system is paid off, it will continue to produce electricity and an income for approximately 25-30 years.
- Materials are guaranteed by the power company, the manufacturer, and the installer. Quality panels and modules have a 25-year warranty and the panels themselves extend the life of your roof by as much as 10 years!
- Solar panels improve the energy efficiency of your building by as much as 30%.
How many years in do CRE owners investing in Solar Power start seeing their investment pay off?
The solar PV system starts saving you money or producing electricity income on Day 1 after it’s been commissioned/energized. Factors regarding its payoff vary depending on the investor’s approach.
Is there an ideal time to invest in Solar Power?
Short answer: Now!
Solar PV panels can be installed at any time. They are lightweight and incredibly durable. Some investors like to install solar panels when they need a new roof. If done in tandem correctly with certain technologies, such as bifacial modules and a white roof, the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) should be eligible for a 30% credit for the white roof and solar system since they work as part of a system in that scenario.
What advice would you give to someone looking to invest in Solar Power for the first time?
Don’t delay! You can call or email me. Electricity costs are going up and solar allows you to lock in a lower rate for 25 years! Additionally, the incentives aren’t going to get any better than they are today for on-site solar. The time is now!
Where do you see the future of Solar Power heading in the next 5-10 years?
If it continues the same trajectory that we have witnessed since 2013, it will be growing at astronomical rates. Utility companies must create better systems to handle ancillary power systems from their customers and learn from leading companies like Xcel Energy to do so.The fossil fuel industry has been subsidized since its inception, why would clean energy be any different in that regard? Consumers have to educate themselves on the issues & benefits and pass on their knowledge to others that want to learn.
For more information, contact Angie at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
This interview has been edited and condensed.