"5 Questions With" Rick Frio, President of IMC Solar
1. What is IMC Solar?
IMC Solar is a tri-state (OH, WVA, PA) solar developer trying to bring all the benefits of third party ownership of solar to middle market and non-profit communities. While IMC’s key competency is in solar development, our mission is much deeper than that as we work closely with clients to make sure their renewable energy and ESG goals align with the reality of the real world and their individual corporate and/or community commitments.
Every solar project has many facets and include hard dollar facts that must be addressed, along with community and stakeholder concerns. Finally, IMC understands that the renewable energy/ESG drivers of today may change tomorrow because of the shifting political and economic landscape. Part of our service is to provide guidance and alternatives to our clients as the landscape shifts.
2. How has 2022 changed the prospects for solar development?
Well, how about an epic tailwind! First, the SEC issued a proposed rule regarding ESG that impacts all publicly traded companies AND companies in the supply chain of those public companies. All of these businesses will need to track their greenhouse gas emissions and show their mitigation strategies. Solar will play an important role in mitigation. Second, Congress passed and the president signed the Inflation Reduction Act which provides 10 years of enhanced tax credits for not only solar projects but related interconnection costs plus battery storage. It has never been a more critical, and advantageous time to look at solar. Companies can enhance their ESG profile and save money at the same time!
3. Are there any other major public policy initiatives?
The Community Solar movement nationwide is transformative. It allows solar to be built in one location while the purchasers of that solar power can be miles away. What is unique is that this is done through an interconnection with the distribution (local) utility instead of the regional transmission grid. This saves time and cost. Over 20 states now have Community Solar laws and Ohio is deliberating on its own Community Solar legislation (HB 450).
4. This all sounds fabulous for the solar industry. What are the challenges?
It is still not easy for individuals and small businesses to pursue solar projects. Solar projects are expensive, even with the credits and the new cash option is complicated and not available for individuals and small business. Supply chain shortages exist for all the component parts and there is still an overreliance on foreign manufacturers. Finally, there is a major trade case that has been temporarily stayed but will soon have to be resolved. The good news is that the tools are in place to work through these challenges.
5. What will be your focus for the remainder of 2022 into 2023?
Our core focus is bring solar to the middle market and non-profit communities. Beyond that, there are great opportunities to add battery storage to projects, address EV charging as part of the solar project, and include roof replacement as part of the solar cost. The roofing initiative makes great sense in this market as it turns a capital expense into an operating expense and it matches up roof life with solar life. We expect the next few years to provide fantastic options for solar customers.