Photo voltaic power is on the rise in Arkansas and across the nation. Business and residential photo voltaic capability is hitting new highs and photo voltaic panel manufacturing eclipsed a brand new file in 2019. For 2020, these milestones are anticipated to climb to increased ranges.
Michael Henderson, who simply left his publish as CFO of the Arkansas Electrical Cooperative Corp. (AECC), will go full-time as CEO of solar energy installer, At this time’s Energy Inc. A subsidiary of AECC, At this time’s Energy is owned by 17 Arkansas electrical distribution cooperatives and has been prolific with contracts and new enterprise over the previous two years.
Henderson mentioned the way forward for photo voltaic power with Speak Enterprise & Politics Editor-in-Chief Roby Brock.
TB&P: At this time’s Energy has been in main development mode for a number of years, however particularly this 12 months, and 2021 seems fairly promising. What’s driving curiosity in photo voltaic proper now?
Michael Henderson: There are two camps driving photo voltaic curiosity: Economics and environmental stewardship. From an economics driver, a whole lot of price components have aligned to end in considerably decrease prices. Photo voltaic parts’ costs have fallen, Funding Tax Credit score incentives present price reductions, and financing prices are at file lows. All of those add as much as actually low electrical energy prices. From an environmental stewardship driver, many companies have mandates to realize sure emission ranges at their amenities as a result of their clients require it. Firms like Walmart and Tyson Meals have sturdy multi-level sustainability applications and photo voltaic is a technique to assist meet these objectives. Different industries reminiscent of agriculture have at all times been good stewards of the land and simply need to do the proper factor and photo voltaic is simply one other solution to accomplish that. Why is everybody hungry for this feature? I feel the simplicity of photo voltaic and the truth that it may be an area useful resource makes the general public search it as a result of they will see it, watch it produce, and perceive the financial savings.
TB&P: What investments have you ever all made to place your self for this fast development?
Henderson: TPI has taken steps throughout 2020 to place for development by buying a brand new headquarters facility to permit workers to focus particularly on TPI development. We developed a system monitoring & operation middle to have the ability to know at any given second how every facility is producing. We’ve invested in people who find themselves one of the best at what they accomplish that our clients get the best possible service. Lastly, we have now invested in relationships with distributors, bankers, businesses, and so on. that permit TPI entry to sources to permit its development.
TB&P: Are you fearful that you may develop an excessive amount of, too quick or is the planning portion of this manageable?
Henderson: I’m petrified of the speed of development primarily as a result of I come from a utility background the place we have now the posh to review a call for six months earlier than making a call. The TPI world consists of expiring Revenue Tax Credit and the specter of rising rates of interest which necessitates shifting rapidly. Having financing in place, a gifted workforce, and the power to safe product makes development manageable.
TB&P: Each time I flip round, you or a competitor announce a brand new challenge. How a lot potential is there on this house?
Henderson: The potential is big for individuals who perceive the electrical energy market and the company tradition. With my monetary background, manufacturing expertise and utility information, I really feel TPI is uniquely positioned to develop options to satisfy each clients wants. TPI can inform a buyer what configuration saves essentially the most for them or in the event that they gained’t save from photo voltaic in any respect. Arkansas has some very enticing electrical charges and everybody might not profit from putting in a photo voltaic system. Nonetheless, with the appearance of decrease price photo voltaic and decrease price dependable storage methods, it’s simpler for many clients to have the ability to notice financial savings.
One instance is the Basic Dynamics photo voltaic system that was put in this month and along side that we put in storage twice the scale of the photo voltaic, which implies if that facility loses grid electrical energy, will probably be in a position to proceed its manufacturing course of with out dropping work in progress. This added resiliency makes Basic Dynamics a extra dependable provider to the Division of Protection which has worth.
There’s large potential within the electrical car infrastructure market. I lately started driving an electrical car and the necessity for fast-charging infrastructure is big. Arkansas has very minimal present fast-charging methods.
TB&P: The initiatives now are bigger scale and primarily industrial or agricultural. Is that the house you propose to remain in?
Henderson: Our purpose is to assist our clients lower your expenses on their power payments. Bigger methods end in decrease prices. We’re growing a number of photo voltaic parks the place smaller clients combination their photo voltaic methods to provide a bigger useful resource in coordination with the native utility. We usually add storage at these websites, which helps native utilities handle their masses for reliability and extra financial financial savings.
The big 100-MW methods are decrease price on a MW foundation, nonetheless, they’re nonetheless depending on transmission and distribution infrastructure. Our focus is on putting in native level of consumption methods, or micro-grids, that may keep away from transmission prices that aren’t wanted.
TB&P: Is there the likelihood for smaller scale photo voltaic and what would possibly that appear to be?
Henderson: TPI positively does smaller methods as effectively. That is the Wild, Wild West as a result of shoppers are instructed a whole lot of mis-represented information to encourage them to purchase their photo voltaic system. We’ve seen methods offered to individuals who find yourself paying extra for his or her photo voltaic and utility than their unique utility or folks being offered photo voltaic methods with a 15-year payback, but the individual’s life expectancy is way decrease than that. TPI tries to make prudent suggestions that’s in one of the best curiosity of the client.