If you were a Senior Vice President of a full-service real estate investment and development company, how would it feel to have fourteen million square feet of leasable rooftops in the height of New Jersey’s solar boon?
“For the first time I knew what it felt like to be the prettiest girl in the room,” said Richard Johnson of Matrix Development Group.
Located in Cranbury, N.J., the company relies on Johnson's expertise in design and construction of warehouse and distribution facilities. As he explains it, Matrix Development Group was receiving three calls a day from companies looking to install solar on his “attractive platforms.” He took his time to analyze the industry, and claims to have wasted a lot of time doing it.
“I tried to figure out what was the difference between all of the firms wanting to do business with us,” said Johnson. “I finally got to a point where somebody could look at me from across the table and say, ‘If the cash piece of this goes away, I have no problem writing the deal. If the SRECS go from six hundred to three hundred, were not leaving the table. If the one hundred percent depreciation goes away, we're not leaving.’ That's not a large universe.”
As a real estate investor, the goal is to create value. Johnson looks at how solar technology can be implemented to remain competitive in the long-term. That means controlling operating costs.
“Within the last year, we have completed 3-megawatt installations with PSE&G,” said Johnson. “These are direct-to-grid systems, all leases, totaling 9 megawatts, all part of the Solar4All program.”
Johnson sees plenty of room in the market for large solar farm projects, residential and small businesses. He thinks the key to small business success and job growth is having strong business plans to navigate the maturing industry.
“Industry is going through a self-correction, and the incentives will move in and out. If we are not careful, we will lose jobs. If we are careful, jobs will shift across industries and sectors,” said Johnson.
PSE&G, as part of their mission to support renewable energy and job growth, consistently work with eighteen New Jersey companies.
Pictured: Dayton, N.J., installation under the Solar4All program.