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What's happening around the world in the solar industry and how it might affect you

Big New York install marks new era for renewable energy firm

Half Moon cuts ribbon big New York rooftop solar projectWhile one of the largest rooftop solar installations in New York marks a shift in the state’s energy policy, it’s an even bigger milestone for the company that installed it.

The 1-megawatt solar installation that covers a rooftop the size of two football fields in Yonkers, New York, is Half Moon Ventures first solar installation ever.

The Illinois company decided a couple years ago to shift its course completely. It had been focused on utility-scale wind energy projects. “We decided strategically that it was time to exit that business,” said Half Moon CEO Michael Hastings.

Since then, the company has focused on developing smaller renewable energy projects for municipalities and corporations that are used to paying high rates for power. “The onsite generation market is markedly better than the utility-scale market,” Hastings said.

Shifting from giant utility-scale projects that took years to get off the ground to quicker and more nimble commercial projects was just the beginning. About 18 months ago, Half Moon’s joint venture partners asked the company to consider solar as well as wind.

That’s when the company started negotiations with the owners of the large New York building that just went solar. Half Moon owns and operates the solar installation and sells the power it produces to the building owner and tenants through a power purchase agreement.

While the National Resources building was Half Moon’s first solar installation, it will not be the last.

The company is working on installing 35 megawatts of solar at six locations in four states for a mining company. Hastings also said the company has several other solar projects lined up with other New York businesses. He can’t discuss those projects until the “ink is dry” on the contracts, he said.

“We’re looking at projects in areas with high electricity costs,” Hastings said.

And solar is likely to be a growing part of the commercial business, he said, especially as solar prices continue to come down.

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