This local solar company is doubling down on D.C. It just raised $10 million.
By Andy Medici – Senior Staff Reporter, Washington Business Journal
D.C. solar developer New Columbia Solar has raised $10 million in funding from New Energy Capital Partners as it prepares to build and launch a massive number of projects in 2020.
The funding, the first time the company has raised outside investment, will go toward additional staffing and the development and operation of 100 to 150 solar projects throughout the year — nearly doubling the 150 projects the company has developed since its 2016 founding, according to Finance Director Sam Walker.
“It’s huge for us. What it allows us to do is continue accelerating our plans,” Walker said. And those plans involve the company’s evolution from a developer of solar projects, who would sell off the project when completed, to a solar developer and operator, keeping the projects in its portfolio as it grows. The company focuses on constructing smaller solar energy systems on the roofs of buildings and parking garages across the city.
The company announced $25 million in project financing from Amalgamated Bank in November. That financing, alongside the sale of renewable energy tax credits to companies and investors and combined with the new equity investment, totals about $50 million for the company, Walker said. The company brought in $10 million in revenue in 2018, according to a November interview.
The company’s customers, which typically include schools, religious organizations, nonprofits, and commercial and multifamily properties, opt to have a solar energy system constructed on their property and purchase the electricity directly from the company over the course of a lease term, which typically lasts 20 years.
New Columbia Solar’s expansion is not geographic; it is merely doubling down on the District, where a favorable regulatory environment makes solar development more attractive and where the management team is deeply rooted, Walker said, adding that when Mike Healy and Nick Giannotti co-founded the company three years ago they chose a map of D.C. as the company’s logo.
“For now, we are laser-focused on D.C,” Walker said. “We are all local, we are here, physically in D.C., we are involved in local policy. And obviously invested already in the projects. There is a lot of room for runway in D.C. for renewable.”
And while Walker said the far future might involve an expansion out of the region, there are no plans to do so at the moment.
“We love what we do in D.C. and we love the market and we love our customers and we love our regulators — which I think is pretty rare for a developer to say. And we are committed to D.C,” he said.
Green Hurlocker PLC served as legal counsel to New Columbia Solar. Rath, Young, and Pignatelli served as legal counsel to New Energy Capital Partners.
View the story here.