Zenergy offers full-service energy finance advisory services. We are committed to enhancing our client’s needs. Our clients make the best decisions based on a through understanding of the financial, legal and regulatory issues. Our role is to develop this understanding. We draw from a broad range of technical capabilities and experience, to guide our clients to the optimal solutions.
The Zenergy Team
Zenergy is led by Brandon Conard, Managing Director.
Zenergy has standing partnerships with engineers, accountants, and financial analysts that we have worked with for many years. By working seamlessly together, Brandon and the Zenergy partners have consistently delivered results for our clients across a breadth of technologies and challenges.
Background In Structured Finance
Managing Director - Zenergy
Brandon has more than 8 years of project finance experience.
Strong track record of financing new energy markets.
Passionate innovator of marketing and sales programs for commercial energy solutions.
Bio – Brandon Conard
Over 8 years of experience in Energy Structured Finance. My career began as an attorney, practicing at Weil, Gotshal, & Manges. After that, I led BlueMap’s energy economics team, providing advanced clean-tech purchase analytics to larger commercial property owners. In 2009, I co-founded Greenzu, providing Power Purchase Agreement funding for Commercial and Industrial projects. In 2013, Greenzu was acquired by HelioPower. I joined as their Chief Strategy Officer and VP of Structured Finance. At HelioPower, I managed three teams: Structured Finance, C&I project development, and Commercial Marketing. In early 2015, I launched Zenergy to bring our financing solutions to the growing base of developers and investors striving to make clean energy the new paradigm.
Structured Finance Highlights
- Raised $126 million in solar project financing commitments, including $45 million of tax equity.
- Raised $28M in private placements through High Net Worth individuals.
- Developed/advised on 246MW of clean energy projects.
- Worked with a broad spectrum of banks/institutional investors in a variety of capacities, including: US Bank, BNP Paribas, Citibank, PNC, City National Bank, and Rabobank.
Experience With The Array of Tax Equity, Debt, & Structured Finance Options
Over the years, I have been involved in each major type of tax equity structure. A few examples are below.
Developed several small projects as a partnership flip. The tax equity was provided by an HNW individual actively involved in the project and sponsor equity was a Taiwanese fund.
Advised on a 3MW project where a regional bank providing tax equity requested the project be structured as a sale leaseback.
While advising a foreign sponsor equity fund, I worked with US Bank on an inverted lease structure for 7MW of projects in California. Sinopac provided takeout debt. EB5 funds used to back lever sponsor equity’s contribution.
Project Acquisition & PlacementWe procured a set of projects through a complex Option arrangement, then immediately sold the projects to a large fund. Significant financial and technical diligence was required in a compressed time frame.
Advised TCF Bank on structuring their first operating lease for a solar project in North Carolina.
Worked with Rabobank to supply debt to the offtaker under a Prepaid PPA. Tax Equity was sourced from a corporate investor.
History Of Innovating Finance Solutions
Along with funding large projects with institutional investors, my career includes funding many non-investment grade projects. Addressing these credit challenges required problem-solving and innovation. As a result, I stayed on the fore-front of new financial structures and trends. A few examples of early innovation are below.
2009 – Launch PPA Funding for Commercial Customers
In 2009, I identified the need for streamlined solar PPA funding for C&I. In response, I recruited a team of investment bankers, accountants, lawyers, and investors to develop the Greenzu PPA. We developed the investment models, prepared the constellation of agreements, then sourced $5M of project capital to launch the fund from non-traditional sources. In the following years, we raised multiple new funds from traditional investment firms and large banks.
2011 – Crowdfund C&I PPAs For Securitization
In 2011, we saw the opportunity to use crowdfunding for non-creditworthy projects. We began by crowdfunding a few small projects. To do this, I structured the deal, obtained the necessary exemptions, prepared the Private Placement Memorandum (“PPM”), then sourced the capital from the “crowd.”
2012 – Convert Regional Banks Into Tax Equity
2013 – Raise Tax Equity From Corporations
In 2013, we turned to corporate investors to raise a tax equity fund. We blended investment grade and non-investment grade projects into one portfolio. The pool economics were designed so that the cash flow from the investment grade projects underwrote the non-investment grade projects.
2014 – PrePaid PPAs Backed By PACE
In 2014, I began using PACE to get Tax Equity comfortable with mid-size C&I. The nature of PACE effectively removes the recapture risk stemming from foreclosure. We use a Prepaid PPA structure, where the offtaker uses a PACE loan to make the prepayment.
2015 – Solar+Storage With “Shared Savings”
Commercial Energy Marketing & Sales Programs
It doesn’t matter how much funding you have, if you don’t have any projects. The challenge with C&I projects is the long and laborious sales cycle.
As a result, I developed a series of tools to accelerate the process.
Solar Project Development & Proposal Tool– We created a model that simultaneously calculates the customer’s ACOE, Cash Flow from a Loan/Lease/PPA, and the full sales proposal. It allows our developers to run tariff switch scenarios, modify system design, and tweak finance parameters to identify the optimum project configuration. The output is a full color proposal with the customized options the developer decides is best.
Online Energy Payback Calculators– We launched a series of online energy payback calculators. They allow building owners to see the energy savings, cost, and payback from a variety of solutions: Fuel Cell, Lighting upgrades, Lighting controls, and programmable thermostats.
Legal & Regulatory Thought Leadership
A few of the articles I authored:
Small Business Solar PPA: The Solution to Transaction Costs – Greentech Media
Solar power purchase agreements (PPA) steal a page from the cell phone playbook. In a PPA, the project developer pays to install the solar and, in exchange, the host facility’s owner agrees to buy the solar energy for the next 15 to 20 years. Companies like […]
Protecting Ownership When A Host Property Enters Foreclosure – Solar Industry Magazine
Solar PPA developers recognize host facility foreclosure is their big risk. The impact of that risk is bigger than many PPAs realize. Unless your PPA is set up right, a foreclosure does not just mean lost revenue. The foreclosing bank may be entitled to keep the solar […]
Solar Tax Equity Due Diligence Tips
Companies large and small are beginning to invest in solar tax credit deals as a smart tax strategy. Although these investments are smart and relatively straightforward, Greenzu’s team finds itself frequently educating new tax equity investors on a few key deal points. These are not tips in how to […]
Passive Activity 101 for Tax Equity Investors
Companies paying over $200,000 in income tax can turn their tax bill into a profitable short-term investment by becoming a “Tax Equity Investor” in a solar project. Large companies, like Google, have long been able to make tax credit investments. Meanwhile, mid-size companies were kept out because the deal […]
Solar Tax Equity Investments 101: How The ROI Works
Tax Equity is a common part of solar project finance deals. Everyone knows “the Tax Equity Investor invests in the solar project and in exchange gets all the tax incentives.” This sounds great, but not everyone knows how this works. People regularly ask Greenzu *how* […]
In an article about SolarCity, the reporter kindly prefaced his quote with this:
What kind of returns do these backers anticipate? Brandon Conard, the CEO of Greenzu, explains adroitly here, that an average return on investment for these funds (when they simply follow the letter of the law) is on the order of 16% per year for the required 5-year holding period.
Other News & Quotes
Sharp Introduces SmartStorage Energy Management Solution – Yahoo Finance
11 Green Hotel Projects Proven To Save Money – Green Lodging News
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