Community Solar

At Wunder, we believe in the incredible opportunity presented by Community Solar to open the market of potential solar customers and bring more systems online than ever before. We’re here to help spur the growth of this nascent market segment.

To better service the community solar market, we went back to the basics in 2018 and developed a community solar underwriting framework from the ground up, in turn removing some of the traditionally onerous requirements that have plagued this segment of the solar market. With Wunder’s new process, financing community solar arrays is now straightforward for developers, installers, and customers alike.

Community Solar Underwriting

Our team developed Wunder’s unique community solar underwriting framework in collaboration with our partners and subscription managers, resulting in a progressive and flexible framework that focuses on a deep understanding of the value associated with community solar assets in a more holistic manner. We don’t require the array to be fully subscribed prior to contracting, nor do we need subscriber agreements to contain overly punitive termination penalties. We’re fine with 100% residential offtake and we don’t require FICO scores. Instead, Wunder focuses on other project factors, including the subscription manager, system economics, state and utility pricing regimes, and the supply and demand dynamics of the specific market.

Subscription Management

Wunder’s list of pre-approved third-party subscription managers include Ampion, Arcadia and CleanChoice. We know that subscription management, just like Community Solar, is still a relatively nascent market. That’s why we take a holistic view at the entity performing subscription management: we’ll ask for an application to better understand the scale at which subscription managers have subscribed, onboarded, and managed subscribers for community solar arrays.  We'll also want to understand their technology platform, subscription contract structure, customer billing and information access, and any plans for filling subscriber gaps, prior to and after project completion.

Vacancy Risk

Wunder understands that change in subscriber composition over the course of a community solar system's operation is inevitable. Wunder accounts for this dynamic by incorporating vacancy estimates into our system revenue expectations, continually updating our supply and demand projects for a given market, as well as requiring a debt service reserve fund for all community solar projects.

Understanding your Offer

As with all of our loan offers, Wunder has established in-house underwriting criteria that determine a project’s eligibility and loan size. While many factors play a part in Wunder’s ultimate lending decision - engineering specifications, site control, the offtaker’s credit profile, and more - the offered loan amount is most heavily influenced by the expected cash flows of the system that can service project-level debt.

  • Leverage: For Community Solar projects, our team first looks at how the bill credit is valued in the project’s jurisdiction. In markets where the bill credit "floats" on the retail price of power, we may incorporate a more conservative valuation of system revenues in the out-years. Wunder may also incorporate considerations for local solar supply and energy demand dynamics into our pricing model. Finally, Wunder will always model some expected operating expense associated with subscription management, even if the project under review will be handled internally.
  • Rate: Rates on community solar projects are determined by a variety of factors, most notably geographic market economics and subscriber management practices. Wunder believes that the presence of FICO scores or investment-grade ratings above certain thresholds de-risks the project, but that a pool of diversified residential off-takers without FICO requirements still presents significant value, albeit at a higher level of risk, and thus may warrant a higher interest rate.

  • Debt Service Reserves: Wunder requires a debt service reserve for every community solar project to mitigate the potential subscriber vacancy risk to a project’s anticipated cash flows. The debt reserve is a product of subscriber composition, which means both the mix of customers in the subscriber base and the credit profiles and scores of those customers.  Approved subscription managers or contracted sale of system energy to a single subscription manager may lower debt service reserve requirements.

Disbursement Milestones

We understand the challenges of capital draws being limited by initial subscription obligations and untenable subscriber contracts, and we have as much interest in avoiding subscriber loss due to construction delays as you do. That’s why Wunder’s disbursement milestone schedule allows for the community solar array to be “filled up” in parallel with the development and installation process.

Wunder’s disbursement for community solar projects, which qualify for milestone financing, will operate on the below schedule, conditional upon the respective requirements being met:

  1. Our partner has demonstrated an approved subscription management plan and has contracted any outside parties needed to execute it.
  2. All programmatic requirements are met (i.e. no other regulatory factors could inhibit the project’s ability to achieve interconnection)

Milestone

Amount Available

Subscriber Requirements

Equipment Procurement

up to 60% of loan proceeds

0% subscribers signed on

Mechanical Completion

70% of loan proceeds

50% subscribers signed on

Substantial Completion

90% of loan proceeds

75% of subscribers signed on

Interconnection

100% of loan proceeds

100% of subscribers signed on

*Please note that as a project approaches completion, Wunder will require complete understanding of the array subscription. To that end, given the risk dynamics and cash flow loss presented by different customer types, Wunder’s Loan & Security Agreement includes covenants that require approval for any C&I off-taker that will make up 20% or more of the array composition, as a percent of total production.

Lockboxes

A majority of Wunder loans now use collection accounts, or lockboxes, for project cash-flow management. A lockbox is a digital bank account that is accessible via Wunder’s Borrower Platform. Lockboxes are a common financial tool used by project lenders to allow for shared access and visibility into project funds. Your Wunder lockbox will receive all project revenue and then distribute the funds to eligible recipients according to the loan and project contracts. For Community Solar projects with lockboxes, Wunder works with the subscription manager to fully understand the expected flow of payments and determine the best method for directing project revenue into the account.

 

 

 

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