Empower Energies Announces First-Ever Solar Lease for Businesses in South Carolina

FREDERICK, Md., Nov. 10, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Empower Energies, Inc., a leading clean energy project solutions company, announced that the South Carolina Office of Regulatory Staff has approved the organization's commercial lease facility, making third-party financing available for businesses interested in adding on-site solar electricity generation for the first time in the state's history.

For many years, third-party financing has enabled businesses in other states to take advantage of lower-cost solar electricity generated on-site. South Carolina's Distributed Energy Resource Program legislation allows third-party finance by means of a lease structure. States such as New York, New Jersey, Maryland and California allow such financing by means of a similar lease structure or a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA).

"We're pleased to be the first company authorized to offer a solar lease in South Carolina designed specifically for commercial business," said Bill Morrow, VP Business Development for Empower Energies. "This is a game-changing opportunity for organizations across the state because it enables them to reduce their energy costs – often significantly, always predictably, and usually for decades – without any upfront costs or capital expenditures."

The new program provides businesses with the option to get their power from somewhere other than the electric grid and, in South Carolina, in most cases that power is less expensive. Lease payments are expected to be 10-15% less than the cost businesses in South Carolina pay for electricity from the utility. Solar leases typically feature a 20-25 year term, providing greater long-term control and predictability of costs.

"The timing of the South Carolina program is fortuitous," said Len Jornlin, CEO at Empower Energies. "The Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for solar steps down from 30% to 10% on January 1, 2017. This gives businesses in the state 14 months to develop, construct and commission on-site solar projects before the larger incentive disappears. But they need to get started soon, because it can take 6-12 months to get a project to completion."

The South Carolina Public Service Commission approved net-metering tariffs for all three investor-owned utilities in the state: Duke Energy Carolinas, Duke Energy Progress and South Carolina Electric & Gas (SCEG). This was the last step required before solar leasing could begin statewide.

The utilities announced their individual programs on August 12, 2015. For more information on these programs see Empower Energies Blog Post: 'For Early Adopters, South Carolina Utilities Are Making Solar Projects More Appealing Than Ever Before,' dated October 21, 2015.

The system size limit for a South Carolina commercial customer is 1,000 kWDC. System size cannot exceed 100% of a customer's contracted demand.

Duke Energy and Duke Progress Energy are also offering qualified businesses that install new rooftop or ground-mounted solar systems of up to 1,000 kWAC a rebate of $1/WDC applied to costs. With this incentive a business could lower its solar lease payments by 20% to 30% or more (compared to the same transaction without a grant), further adding to the potential electricity cost savings that solar can provide. The incentive pool is limited in size, however, and available on a first-come, first-served basis.

For both the Duke Energy and SCE &G programs, commercial customers that install solar arrays before 2021 will receive retail credit for any excess power that flows back onto the electric grid and will be eligible to remain on that rate until December 31, 2025 without any solar-specific charges or fees. This locks in the savings for businesses long-term.

The commercial solar lease from Empower Energies, coupled with the utility incentive programs, can provide the economic benefits of solar energy with no upfront capital expenditures to install the system. Businesses can lease solar installations on-site from independent solar companies and immediately reduce energy costs.

"Another advantage of the commercial solar lease is that Empower Energies maintains the system, reducing your overall operating expenses," Morrow noted. "So you can stay focused on your organization's core mission. And because there is no capital expenditure, you can use that budget for other organizational priorities while you concurrently reduce your energy costs."

Over the last decade, the US has seen the opening of a dozen new solar markets. Customers who educate themselves and execute first will be able to access all the incentives and lock-in the greatest savings.

"We're always looking for new ways to deliver solutions for our customers and partners in the rapidly-changing energy landscape," Jornlin concluded. "This is certainly true in South Carolina, where the solar lease we're introducing with this announcement has never before been available. We commend the legislature for making this innovation possible, as well as Duke Energy and SCG &E for making the program practical, accessible and financially appealing."

Forward-Looking Statements

This release may contain "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Such statements can be identified by the use of forward-looking terminology such as "believes," "expects," "intends," "may," "estimates," "will," "should," "plans" or "anticipates" or the negative thereof or other variations thereon or comparable terminology, or by discussions of strategy. These forward-looking statements involve a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those suggested by the forward-looking statements. Moreover, we caution you not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date they were made. We do not undertake any obligation to publicly release any revisions to these forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances after the date hereof or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events.

About Empower Energies

Empower Energies, Inc., headquartered in Frederick, Maryland, is a clean energy project solutions provider focused on applying the right mixTM of PV solar, combined heat and power (CHP), and energy optimization solutions – with financing – to meet the profitability, resiliency and sustainability objectives of hospitals, universities, municipalities, and schools, as well as multi-facility commercial and industrial organizations. More information about Empower Energies can be found at empowerenergies.com.

Empower Energies is a member of the South Carolina Solar Business Alliance.

A photo accompanying this release is available at:

CONTACT: Mr. Michael Wright Executive Vice President, Strategic Marketing Empower Energies 50 Citizen's Way, Suite 403, Frederick, MD 21701 USA Office: 240.490.4200 x2160 Email: michael.wright@empowerenergies.comSource: Empower Energies