One of Alta Energy’s premier retail property clients, Westfield Malls, recently announced that it has contracted through @ltaE’s marketplace to deploy ~750KW solar system for its Century City mall in Los Angeles. The system will potentially be producing 1.1million KWhrs of electricity per year, providing both economic benefits to Westfield and adding a substantial renewable energy capacity to California’s distributed generation portfolio.

So, what’s so interesting about yet another commercial scale deployment?

Well, it’s not the news but rather what’s behind the news that is interesting: that in order for the economics of this project to work, Westfield (with help of the EPC vendor for the project, Martifer USA), had to meet a critical time window to capture a slice of the $20million in newly released LADWP rebates, when they became available.

Want to guess what the duration of the effective time window for the rebate application was?

Less than 48 hours.

Yes, that is correct.  Word on the street is that within 1 hour of the window opening at 10:00 am on July 2, 2012, $15million in rebated applications were submitted – a whopping 75% of the entire program’s capacity.  Within 48 hours, the program was oversubscribed by 50%.

As many of you may know, such applications are complex and require thorough details and accuracy – or they will likely be rejected.  In other words, you’d better get it right the first time or you won’t really have a chance to get the prize even if you stand in line before anyone else does. (No you may not camp out days before – just “show up” at precisely the right time: applications were accepted on-line starting at 10:00 am on July 2 – no earlier, no later).

In this case, Westfield, with help from Alta Energy, started planning for LADWP commercial rebate program almost 6 months in advance. It all started with @ltaE’s comprehensive, portfolio view of Westfield’s shopping center properties, which enabled them to make efficient, informed, executable decisions as to when and where to deploy solar systems that meet its financial and sustainability goals.

Getting approved into LADWP’s rebate program was critical for the Westfield Century City project.  Without the planning, analysis and execution of a well-defined process, Westfield may not have had the opportunity to capture that fleeting prize.

In the solar incentives world, by the time you see an opportunity, it may already be out of reach.  The lesson is, in order to react, you must plan.  A bit of an oxymoron (planning to be opportunistic!), but that will separate the winners from the losers.  Having a trusted ally to help navigate the solar world and provide the framework where informed, effective and timely decisions can be made may mean the difference between sustainability at a profit versus chasing the shadows of that allusive “sufficient IRR” project.

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