News Analysis

Solar Services Bridge the Owner-Tenant Gap

In single-tenant leased buildings the tenant typically pays the utility bills, so the owner has little financial incentive to lower the energy costs, while the tenant can’t justify a long-term investment in a building it doesn’t own. To bridge that gap, Recurrent Energy offers to install its own photovoltaic (PV) panels on rooftop space leased from the owner and to sell the power it generates to tenants. This is an extension of the power-purchasing agreement model that some companies are using to install PVs on owner-occupied buildings. A newly published report from the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado, “Assessment of the Technical Potential for Achieving Net Zero-Energy Buildings in the Commercial Sector,” estimates that most single-story buildings could meet all their energy needs with rooftop PVs.

In markets with strong financial rebates and other incentives, such as California, New Jersey, and Hawaii, Recurrent Energy says it can guarantee rates to the tenant that are no higher than standard utility rates. Some of those rates are governed by time-of-day pricing, and the output from the PVs will coincide with the hottest time of day—when energy demand and utility rates are highest. There is also an option to unbundle the solar electricity from its environmental benefits and sell plain vanilla power to the tenant while selling its virtues separately as renewable energy certificates (“green tags”) to another customer. In this scenario, the power sold to the tenant would be cheaper than grid power, according to CEO Arno Harris, but he expects that most tenants will want the power with its environmental benefits intact.

Published February 3, 2008

Malin, N. (2008, February 3). Solar Services Bridge the Owner-Tenant Gap. Retrieved from