It’s 2020 and one of the biggest influencers in the solar and clean energy industry is running a software company.
If you ask Kiran bhatraju what his company Arcadia does, he will tell you that his team has built a software technology platform. This platform just happens to sell energy products.
Arcadia, formerly Arcadia Power, connects subscribers from all 50 states through its software to its 11 community wind farms and solar projects. Arcadia has 20 live community solar projects and around 40 projects in development, making it the largest residential community solar manager in the country.
– said Bhatraju, who is the CEO of Arcadia.
Arcadia closed its Series C funding with $ 30 million and plans to use it to double its community solar efforts. Arcadia’s community solar projects are currently located in just four states: Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Colorado. By the end of 2020, Bhatraju hopes customers in nine states will have access to community solar power.
Arcadia enables the masses to connect to clean, renewable energy at a lower cost.
Community solar versus rooftop solar
Rooftop solar power has revolutionized the ability of the average homeowner to subscribe and use clean energy. While solar power on the roof has enabled millions of people to switch to solar power, so many of them have been left in the dark because they live in an apartment, don’t own their roof, or simply the roof was in the wrong direction.
Enter the solar community. Large solar panels were built in fields or on buildings, not for commercial purposes, to help add clean energy to the grid.
But in its early days, solar power was “a product of a wealthy person,” according to Bhatraju. Community solar was more expensive than traditional utility electricity, there were 20-year long contracts and high credit score requirements. Once registered, the customer would receive two invoices, one from the solar park and the other from the electric utility. The other option was to buy panels inside the network, which was also expensive.
Today, community solar power is booming in states like Massachusetts and New York, thanks in large part to the subscriber models that Arcadia and some competitors like Clean Energy Choice and Blue Wave have rolled out.
Customers can connect to community solar power at a discount and do not need a roof. The utility gives the customer a credit on their bill for the electricity they have used, thereby reducing the cost of their total electricity consumption.
However, the big downside to community solar power is that it isn’t actually active in all states. Currently, there are 40 states with at least one online community solar project, according to SEIA. But only about 19 states have policies and programs encouraging the growth of community solar power.
The Solar Energy Industry Association, SEIA, sites where 1,523 megawatts of community solar power were installed in the United States through 2018. SEIA predicts that in the next five years the US community solar market will add up to 3.5 gigawatts.
The Arcadia team encourages this growth by getting involved in policy committees and even asking customers to speak to lawmakers about their love for community solar power. Arcadia also recently hired Max Minzner as general counsel, a former general counsel for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, to help the company navigate its policy and efforts.
“We convince the market that there is a huge demand for these projects,” Bhatraju said. “If it’s done right, customers want clean energy and they want it to be easier. More and more legislators are starting to recognize this. “
How Arcadia’s Business Model Works
Users who land on the Arcadia website can sign up for clean energy in their area in under two minutes. When a person becomes a new Arcadia customer, they will essentially give up contact with their traditional electric utility. Customers pay Arcadia only for their clean energy, and then Arcadia takes care of the rest with the traditional utility behind the scenes.
To make clean energy more accessible to as many people as possible, Arcadia has structured its offer so as not to have a long-term contract. There is also no credit check, which is common with most rooftop solar panels. AAE.
Arcadia waives credit card charges that utilities typically have and puts their customers on automatic payment. Each invoice a customer receives from Arcadia shows how much the customer has saved each month by switching to clean energy and the local disruption charges they have to pay. The cost per KWH varies by state, but customers who subscribe to community solar projects save money.
“We show you the production of your project in a cool, digital way,” Bhatraju said. “Customers get this from other parts of their lives, but not from energy suppliers.”
Behind the scenes, the Arcadia team does the net metering and adjusts the allocation of each client within the solar farm depending on each customer’s individual use and the production they get from the bay. They don’t own or build any of the solar panels, but they manage the clients and the allocations for the client. Bhatraju’s Uber comparison works here because Uber has both drivers and customers as part of its business model, Arcadia has both developers and the average utility customer.
“Arcadia is unleashing residential demand for clean energy by providing simple and compelling products to the customer,” said Greg Callman, global head of energy technology at Macquarie Capital, Arcadia’s newest investor, in a press release for announce the closing of Arcadia’s Series C financing. “Behind the scenes, renewable project developers, trading desks, tech players, utilities and capital providers can connect and manage complexity. “
Arcadia in the future
Although Arcadia has clients in all 50 states, Bhatraju has ambitious goals and hopes for the future and growth of his business.
It also appears that Arcadia continues to expand its product offering to products such as PV charging, batteries and smart thermostats.
“One of the things I’m most proud of is that we have customers in all 50 states. It’s not just the coasts, we have customers in Kansas and Arkansas, ”Bhatraju said. “People have looked at community solar power and they want to see its growth. It’s exciting. “