Written by Frank Lopez
Summer is here and farms in the Central Valley are harvesting fruits, vegetables and many other crops — but more recently, the ag industry is looking to harvest something a bit hotter: the sun.
Founded just this year, Sun Harvest Partners is a group of solar and energy consultants based in Fresno that helps clients get the most out of their existing or up coming solar systems.
Sun Harvest Partners serves as an independent REC (Renewable Energy Certificate)-broker firm that evaluates the eligibility of a client’s existing solar energy system, does all the necessary back-office work to register the system and markets the Renewable Energy Certificate to interested buyers.
When a solar energy system generates a megawatt hour (MWh) of energy it is entitled to a Renewable Energy Certificate (REC). An REC, sometimes referred to as green energy certificates, serve as proof that energy has been generated from renewable sources such solar or wind power.
Essentially, when a client purchases RECs, renewable energy is generated on their behalf.
Jeremiah Seng and Kevin Flanagan, partners at SunHarvest Partners, have been in the energy consulting business since 2012, keeping their fingers on the pulse of the renewable energy industry, wanting to help their clients maximize the value of the RECs.
“Historically the RECs have been available on a voluntary basis. Companies could buy or sell them in order to make claims that they are using green energy, which certainly has value, but the value has historically been fairly low,” Seng said.
Recent changes to low-carbon fuel standards in California related to the charging of electric vehicles (EVs) have upped the value of RECs.
There is no out-of-pocket cost to clients as SunHarvest Partners works on performance fees and takes a percentage of the overall sale of RECs.
Current values of RECs stand between $8 to $20. A 1 MW-DC system with a low yearly production of 1,650 MWh would be valued at $16,500 and one with a 2,050 MWh yearly production would be valued at $20,500.
Seng said that the values for RECs are regulation driven at this point.
Should a client, specifically those in industrial and ag sectors, not see a lot value in being a “green” company, they could sell the RECs to somebody else to utilize them and be able to claim that they are using green power.
“Most of the generation units constructed here in the Valley are done for economic reasons — made to hedge against the increases from PG&E, SoCal electric. People putting in solar weren’t necessarily wanting to make the green claim, they were just trying to fix their costs, said Cameron Moors, business development officer at SunHarvest Partners. People weren’t installing these in unless they wanted to make the claim they’re a green company.”
Companies that have EV fleets are also showing interest. Seng said that that’s where the best opportunities for RECs currently live in California.
As the company was founded in 2020, Seng noted that it was probably the worst time In American history because of the onset of the coronavirus, but interest has remained steady throughout the year.
Because they are limited in their face to face interaction, Moors said that cold calling potential customers with the offer to save them money tends to make them think its a scam, making it harder to engage in conversation to educate people about RECs.
Because of the private regulations regarding RECs, Seng said the best value right now is through the private sector.
In helping to meet California’s environmental goals, the value from RECs could push people sitting on the fence about solar energy to look into solar systems for another revenue stream.
SunHarvest Partners has been networking to make more people aware of the opportunities they provide, and they are also getting a lot of word of mouth referrals.
The firm is limiting itself to provide its services within the state, and currently their main focus has been in the agricultural industry, as they are the ones most interested in selling RECs.
I think we’re looking to grow,” Reynolds said. “We want to be the go to resource for those clients that are interested in generating additional revenue from their existing systems, and to make solar more financially attractive.”