About Zenergy

About Us

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.

 

Brandon Conard

 

Background In Structured Finance

Brandon Conard

Brandon Conard

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.

 

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Partnership Flip

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.

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Sale Leaseback

Advised on a 3MW project where a regional bank providing tax equity requested the project be structured as a sale leaseback.

 

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Inverted Lease

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.

 

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Project Acquisition & Placement

We 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.
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Operating Lease

Advised TCF Bank on structuring their first operating lease for a solar project in North Carolina.

 

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Prepaid PPA

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.

 

Solar PPA Deal Diagram - Zenergyfin.com

Crowdfunded Solar Structure Zenergy

Corporate Tax Equity Fund Zenergy

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
In 2012, we raised a $7M tax equity fund for small golf-course projects from a regional bank. The bank already provided equipment lease finance to golf courses. We presented a way to deploy more funds into the same client base with a higher return. Educating the bank’s legal and financial teams on solar tax investing was an interesting challenge.
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”
In 2015, I structured a Solar+Storage customer finance product by using a “Shared Savings” financing offer. The transaction incorporates an ESCO-like share of savings, SGIP assignments, plus revenue from the sale of services to CAISO.

 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.

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Online Solar Workbook – We launched an online solar proposal workbook for Greenzu’s clients. Greenzu’s focus is helping partner installers close commercial deals. We created a platform where customers could see proposals online, review documents, post questions, and then interact with both the installer and Greenzu.

 

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* […]

Quoted in Forbes

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

Sustainability–Seeing The Forest For The Trees – CNBC

Dead Horse Or Real Scandal? Making Sense Of SolarCity’s Lingering Financial Questions – Forbes

11 Green Hotel Projects Proven To Save Money – Green Lodging News

Real Goods and Greenzu Team Up to Bring Clean Energy to the Cambrian Park United Methodist Church Congregation – Community Paper

Greenzu launches online solar sales tool to improve the way installers and customers share information – PV Magaizine.com

Get In Touch

If you need help with a project, please free free to contact us. Use the form to the right or contact us directly at:

info@zenergyfin.com

415-999-4559

 

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