A:Carbon Solutions Group (CSG) is an Aggregator of SRECs across the US. CSG has been working in the renewable credit industry for over 15 years. Our focus is on helping solar array owners monetize their Renewable Energy Credits (RECs). CSG partners with local installers to create a seamless offering that gives you options with regard to how and when you receive the value generated by the RECs from your array.
Carbon Solutions Group is a Distributed Energy Resources business founded in Chicago in 2006 on the 42nd Floor (The Attic) of the Chicago Board of Trade. Today we have offices in Chicago, San Diego & Portland. Over the years environmental markets have taken us to some pretty unexpected places and allowed us to gain a perspective that most companies in our space don’t have.
We’ve gained this experience by trying new ideas constantly, failing a lot, connecting with people, being authentic, paying attention to details and grinding it out. Our history has been the road less traveled in the clean energy space, but we’ve still got the ambitious belief that we did back in 2006 that together we’re building something unique and something great.
Q: What are SRECs?
A: SRECs are, or will be, generated by your solar array for every MWh that your system produces. These credits only represent the environmental attributes of the power you produce, and we are not seeking to purchase the power from the system itself. A short video provides more information here: https://vimeo.com/113250210
Q: How is my power bill impacted?
A: Your power bill is unaffected by SRECs. SRECs are “Solar Renewable Energy Credits” and they represent the environmental attributes of the power that you produce. You will not see any changes on your utility bill.
Q: How does this impact Net Metering?
A: Selling your SRECs has no impact on Net Metering. You can participate in both Net Metering and sell SRECs at the same time. This is because Net Metering has to do with excess energy production, whereby you can receive a credit from your electricity supplier. SRECs are solely the environmental attributes, so if you use all of your production, or put all of it back on the grid for others to consume, it has no impact on your SREC production or ability to sell them. SREC brokering and Net Metering are separate incentive programs that allow solar owners to make back money.
Q: What if I sell my house?
A: There are two scenarios to consider:
Scenario 1) You selected either a “Full Upfront” payment or “Half Upfront – Half Later” payment and have received an upfront payment. If you sell your home the contract must be transferred to the new owner or terminated by paying back undelivered SRECs.
Scenario 2) You selected a Fixed-Price or Market-Based option, and are paid for SRECs as they are generated. This contract is transferable to the buyer, and if not, no payments would be owed back to CSG and no additional payments would be made under the contract.
Q: What if I add panels to my system?
A: If you do decide to increase your array after the initial contract is signed, we could provide an addendum to expand the contract for the entire system size, we would just need to know some additional information about the panels (size, tilt, azimuth, placement such as roof or ground) and get the updated interconnection agreement from your utility if one is available.
Q: Can I sell my SRECs directly to the utility? Why do I need an aggregator?
A: Utilities do not typically purchase from individuals as they prefer to work with a minimal amount of sellers and essentially bulk purchase SRECs from many systems at once. You are of course free to reach out to them and make inquiries. You would also need to register your system with an SREC tracking system in order to generate SRECs for sale. This is something that Carbon Solutions Group would do on your behalf as your aggregator.
Q: Full Upfront
A: This option is one payment upfront. This is a “pre-payment” for SRECs generated for the entire term of the contract. We calculate this payment based on your estimated production for that term. The price is discounted from the current market price.
Q: Half Upfront – Half Later (50/50)
A: This option offers two lump-sum payments. There is one upfront payment for the estimated production of half of the term and then the second payment would be made halfway through the term. This second payment may be adjusted if your system has been underperforming during the first half of the contract, but is initially projected to match the first payment.
Q: Locked-in Rate
A: This option does not have an upfront payment. SREC prices are locked-in for the term of the contract. You will be paid annually between December and February based on your previous year’s actual production.
Q: Short-Term Locked-in Rate
A: This options does not have an upfront payment. SREC prices are locked-in for the term of the contract, usually 5 years. You will be paid annually between December and February based on your previous year’s actual production.
A: This option is the more typical broker model where we will sell your SRECs on the open market and fetch the highest price possible. This option is the only option where CSG takes a fee, typically 7-10% of the sale price of the SREC.
Q: What are CSG Fees?
A: Depending on the contract option you select, we’ll either offer a fixed price where fees are included in the price (these prices offered are below market value), or if you select market-based price, then we charge a commission (usually 7-10% depending on system size) which is deducted from your payments. There are no upfront or hidden fees in any of our contract options.
Q: What are my obligations?
A: You are not required to sell your SRECs, or participate with Carbon Solutions if you decide to sell, but depending on your system size and the contract that you should you may qualify for an upfront payment of $500-$2500 or annual payments that vary with the market price. If you do agree to a contract, then you would be agreeing to provide meter readings from your array on a consistent basis for the term of your contract. Online monitoring may satisfy this requirement so that you do not have to constantly send these to us.
Q: What about RECs produced before the contract started?
A: If there are existing RECs that have been produced prior to the contract effective date, CSG will purchase these at a fixed-price listed on the contract. Applicability and pricing is further detailed under “Section 7. Retroactive REC Purchases” of the Agreement.
Q: Do you offer a referral program?
A: Yes, we offer a bonus of $10/kW DC. So if you refer a friend with a 5 kW system and they sign a contract with Carbon Solutions, you can receive a referral bonus of $50.00. The friend would need to list your referral ID on the contract.
On the last page of your contract you will find the Referral Agreement, your unique referral code, alongside a place to enter the referral code of someone if they referred you. Subject to the terms and conditions of the referral agreement.
Q: How does CSG compare to other brokers?
A: CSG strives to be competitive in the rates we offer. There are no upfront fees. Our fixed price options already include all fees and the price listed is per SREC is the price you will receive. The market-based option includes a commission fee (usually 10%) that is deducted at the time the SRECs are sold. As you have not signed a contract with us, you are free to contact other aggregators to see what they are currently offering. If you are offered a better price please let us know and we will try to meet or beat that price for you.
Q: How are payment amounts estimated?
A: We take into account your system size, the state in which your system is located, and if it is a roof or ground mount. The estimate is based on an average system for those characteristics, and reduced based on expected panel degradation (0.5% per year). The estimate is then reduced an additional 5-10% to provide for a conservative estimate.
Q: Can my contract estimate be based on other information?
A: If you have actual production data, or a study that provides an expected annual kWh production output, CSG can utilize those figures to provide a revised, targeted estimate for the “Full Upfront” or “Half Upfront – Half Later“ contract options.
Q: How does using estimates impact your contract?
A: It depends on the contract option you choose:
“Full Upfront” Option & “Half Upfront Option”: We take into consideration a margin of error for estimates. If your system does not produce as many SRECs as we estimated the contract will automatically extend until delivery is met. The conservative estimate provides a buffer to prevent unexpected contract extensions.
Fixed-Price and Market-Based Options:Since you are paid for actual production, there is no practical impact on the contract. If you under-deliver the contract, or over-deliver, in either case you will be paid for the actual amount of SRECs your system generates. There would be no contract extension or money owed back if your system under-performs. If your system over-performs, then you are paid for those SRECs.
Q: When will I be paid?
A: This will depend on what contract option you choose. For the “Full Upfront” payment and “Half Upfront – Half Later” payment options, the first payment will be paid approximately 45 days after we have successfully registered your system with any relevant SREC generation and tracking sites and have received a meter reading. For Options where you are paid based on actual generation (fixed-price and market-based), you are paid annually based on actual REC deliveries. We provide the option to sell at least once per year, but will strive to provide up to four opportunities to sell per year for customers with market-based options.
Virginia SREC Market
Q: Why are we reaching out now?
A: Virginia recently passed a law (more info here: https://www.vacleaneconomy.org) that provides a requirement for utilities like Dominion to purchase renewable energy credits, or “RECs”. Since you have a renewable energy generator in the form of a solar PV array, you can produce “SRECs” that meet the definition of what Dominion has to buy to meet the state’s obligation. Virginia put this law into place to help encourage residents, business owners, and utilities to adopt cleaner energy practices, and by selling your SRECs you would be taking advantage of this new law.
Q: What is happening with the VA Market?
A: Virginia passed the Virginia Clean Economy Act in 2020 essentially opening the possibility of an SREC market. Virginia-sited systems are presently eligible to register in the Pennsylvania Tier I REC market . We do not currently have a known timeline for the VA market, though we expect the market to continue to mature. The Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) is currently working on setting the regulations for the solar carveout of the Virginia Clean Economy Act’s Renewable Portfolio Standard which will provide much needed clarity regarding project eligibility, requirements, and future expectations.
Q: I have read the alternative compliance price in Virginia is set at 75 dollars, how does that affect market prices?
A: The $75 DG deficiency payment set for utilities is effectively a cap for how much the SREC would ever be able to sell for and does not indicate where the actual market prices are. The $75 is a penalty fee for the utility being short on SRECs, so the SREC price should always be priced under that penalty fee. This fee increases 1% annually, so the second year of compliance for Dominion would require a fee of $75.75 per SREC, and so on.
The market price listed on your contract is only a reference for what we are currently seeing as the going rate for VA solar. As you will see in our contracts, there are 5 different payment structures available to choose from, most are fixed price options, however, with the market-based option your price per REC would fluctuate with the market price.
REPORTING SOLAR PRODUCTION
Q: How do I report?
A: CSG will be granted access to online monitoring access to your solar production if you agree to a contract with Carbon Solutions. For the most part, this will not be something that you have to worry about, and should be done automatically after you sign.
If for some reason your installer is unable to provide access, we’ll reach out to you. In that case, there are two options for reporting your production. If you have online monitoring, you can grant access to CSG to view your production. If you do not have online monitoring or do not wish to grant us access to view it, you will have to self-report. We will email you instructions on how to do this after your contract has been signed. It is a simple form to fill out that should take no more than 5 minutes.
Q: How often do I have to report?
A: We will send out a monthly reminder email to report production. Although we send them out monthly they are only required to be filled out quarterly. If you are able to report monthly we encourage you to do so as it allows us to keep up-to-date on your SREC generation when looking to make sales.
If you have online monitoring and have granted CSG access to view your production, you will not receive these reminders and CSG will report your production on your behalf.