Five things to look for in a community solar software platform

The Tri County solar array in Delanco, New Jersey was created by Soltage and uses Community Sun’s SunEngine group photo voltaic software package platform.

By Armando Gaetaniello, VP of enterprise advancement, Neighborhood Sun

Neighborhood solar has been expanding all over the U.S., with more than 3.6 GW of jobs running in late 2021 and deployments expected to maximize by 4.5 GW of potential in the subsequent five years. The U.S. DOE has set a objective for the equal of 5 million American houses to be run by local community photo voltaic methods by 2025.

But controlling the projects can be unnecessarily elaborate, which can hamper their deployment. To speed up community photo voltaic progress and accomplish the DOE’s aim, we ought to do away with as quite a few complexities as doable.

A good neighborhood photo voltaic software platform goes a prolonged way towards simplifying jobs — supporting to attract and retain buyers, help you save time and increase revenues for builders and asset house owners.

Specified these added benefits, what should really builders and asset homeowners look for in a group photo voltaic billing system?

1. Overall flexibility and customization

Any individual who functions in local community solar is familiar with that it is a complicated marketplace section. Community solar enterprise designs and polices vary widely throughout the U.S. and laws constantly improve in this speedy-shifting marketplace. Even within just the similar point out, various enterprise versions may be readily available. And just about every developer has distinctive issues, with various demands for distinct consumer forms.

That’s why adaptability and customization — to accommodate the needs of subscribers and people of developers and asset entrepreneurs — are important for a local community photo voltaic billing platform. But these types of platforms have normally been as well rigid to account for different structures, shifting polices and numerous client kinds.

To present overall flexibility and customization, a local community solar billing platform must:

  • Let you to deal with a mix of multi-state or multi-utility tasks and portfolios throughout diverse teams.
  • Permit tailoring for distinct requires of outreach and advertising:
    • For illustration, signup internet pages may possibly use various messages for distinct audiences, this sort of as an environmental team or a community team like a congregation.
    • Distinct sales groups selling the identical local community photo voltaic undertaking in the exact utility may want to each have their personal signup site that makes use of their language and brand name. This can be used to your possess internal or an external profits crew.
    • All of these initiatives require to be tracked in element to evaluate effectiveness and success of the outreach approach.
  • Include the regulations and buildings for just about every state and update them frequently to keep up with changing plan landscapes this consists of including new markets as they open up.

2. White-labeling or software-as-a-company

Quite a few group photo voltaic billing platforms really don’t consist of accurate white labeling, but developers and asset homeowners should not forget about this function. Whether or not you’re new to the local community photo voltaic sector or a veteran, a real white labeling implementation enables you to develop a powerful brand presence and manage and improve associations with your subscribers. Genuine white labeling also will allow you the adaptability of partnering with other photo voltaic firms even though fully subscribing your individual tasks. Some platforms present what they connect with a “white label,” but it is just throwing your branding on an current construction that is utilized by numerous other businesses.

Perhaps the most significant gain of a accurate white label function is that it makes it possible for each developer or asset operator to use a separate databases, which provides an crucial layer of privacy and safety. This is important for any group that has its possess billing and buyer support department and that interfaces directly with a utility to manage subscribers. Just about every firm, whilst making use of the exact SaaS platform, must also be equipped to configure selected features in its own tailored way.

3. Relieve of signup and use for subscribers

Community Sun’s SunEngine group photo voltaic computer software system.

Irrespective of its existing advancement, local community solar is however a new principle to most people and companies — so it can be complicated for subscribers. That can develop churn for both equally subscribers and group solar firms.

It’s important for a group solar computer software platform to make it straightforward for subscribers to indicator up. To give buyers with the details they need to have and guarantee that they do not squander time going by way of pointless methods, enrollment ought to be tailored to match state and utility plan specifications.

After a buyer is subscribed, they should really be equipped to quickly obtain their information in just one location this incorporates viewing their invoices and monitoring their discounts, changing their account information and monitoring their affect. A smooth consumer knowledge suggests you are going to spend fewer time on the cellular phone answering customers’ concerns — which will help save you money and maximize customer retention.

4. One particular-prevent shop for asset homeowners and developers

A great community solar program platform need to supply a turnkey 1-cease store for asset owners and developers.

It need to consist of instruments like a management dashboard, referral codes and promotional codes to empower your profits groups as they have interaction with and sector to their purchasers. It really should enable tracking of all advertising and marketing and income efforts.

Computer software integration is a important component of an efficient one-prevent store. You should not have to fret about your billing and reporting packages not doing the job perfectly with each other. It is uncomplicated to see how a billing system that integrates with your CRM can make your lifetime a lot less difficult, furnishing simple entry to the data you will need about your consumers. Powerful and successful platforms must also combine with payment processors, e-signing application, utilities and credit score agencies.

Seamless integration with all related software platforms removes the will need to produce workarounds and offers you effortless access to the info you want, guaranteeing precision and preserving you time and revenue. An group with dozens of local community solar belongings should have a single central position to increase, edit, replace and change buyers with out possessing to update these data multiple moments because the various softwares never chat to every other.

5. Info and reporting

Speaking of very easily obtainable facts, your group photo voltaic software system ought to make it easy to observe facts, this sort of as how several subscribers you have, how a great deal home is remaining in a photo voltaic venture and billing cycles. The platform should also automate accounting and reporting procedures that may possibly in any other case have to be accomplished manually. This can involve mapping utility data, building invoices and tracking jobs.

Reports need to be customizable and consist of a process for reconciling info from clients, asset proprietors and utilities. Recognizing a discrepancy in the documented ability generation information amongst the utility and the community solar corporation can aid lead to a fast resolution.

Group solar assignments entail quite a few stakeholders, these as community solar providers, developers, asset owners, financiers and utilities. The potential to simply get facts about a task and share it among these different channels can aid fortify associations with all of these parties.

Pulling it all jointly

In today’s industry, there is no will need to settle for a group solar application platform that does not include things like all the attributes comprehensive right here. Past these things, it’s a very good strategy to contemplate who has created the system. What is the workforce that stands driving the system? Who will you attain when you simply call about troubles — a senior individual or a junior staffer?

A deep being familiar with of the elaborate local community photo voltaic current market, based on considerable experience with both the monetary criteria and the electricity marketplace, will make sure that the system fits your demands. While lots of software package developers could create a complicated system, developers and asset proprietors ought to interact a crew that understands the marketplace and presents a platform that will deliver the very best final results.

Neighborhood Sunlight is a Licensed B-Company, meeting the greatest environmental, group, governance and employee expectations in the organization and was just lately awarded a prestigious “Best for the Entire world – Environment” award.

Stacee R. Grigg

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