Once you have designated specific sites for on-site solar PV and understood their solar energy potential, you need to decide on the system’s ownership model, as this will inform financing considerations and RFP specifications. First, identify which Third Party Ownership (TPO) models are allowed in your state by using TPO maps or reaching out to local solar contractors. In many states, the legality of TPO and the incentives available through TPO models are vague but your legal department or utility point of contact can help clarify.
After identifying which ownership models are available, next determine which best serves your local context. It may be helpful to examine successful examples of each model, such as Washington, DC’s on-site solar PPA, Peralta Community College’s on-site solar direct ownership project, and Lowell’s on-site energy service provider contract (ESPC). The table below summarizes key considerations for the three primary ownership models
NREL has webinars that can help you decide on a financing approach and begin the solar PV procurement process. Section 7.3 of the DOE’s Solar Powering your Community: A Guide for Local Governments report highlights the advantages and disadvantages of various financing models. And Part 2 of DOE’s Procuring Solar Energy: A Guide for Federal Facility Decision Makers describes general characteristics, provides case studies and information on project process, and lists available resources for various financing models. :