Solar Maverick Podcast

SMP 21: An Investor’s Perspective on the US Solar Market

March 26, 2019

Episode Summary

Benoy and John discuss the how the exciting industry of solar and renewable resources has been impacted by large utility projects becoming smaller and more distributed. John emphasizes the importance of people to any industry and how vital the trust between business partners and clients is to the success of any project, relationship or business.  


About our Guest:

Benoy Thanjan

Benoy Thanjan is the Founder and CEO of Reneu Energy and he is also an advisor for several solar startup companies. Reneu Energy is a premier international solar energy consulting firm and developer and the company focuses on developing commercial and industrial solar and utility scale solar plus storage projects. The company also sources financing for solar projects and hedges energy and environmental commodities. Reneu Energy has brokered $27 million in environmental commodities transactions.

Benoy received his first experience in Finance as an intern at D.E. Shaw & Co., which is a global investment firm with 37 billion dollars in investment capital. Before founding Reneu Energy, he was the SREC Trader in the Project Finance Group for SolarCity which merged with Tesla in 2016. He originated SREC trades with buyers and co-developed their SREC monetization and hedging strategy with the senior management of SolarCity to move into the east coast markets. Benoy also worked at Vanguard Energy Partners, Ridgewood Renewable Power, and Deloitte & Touche.

John Chaimanis

Mr. Chaimanis co-founded Kendall Sustainable Infrastructure (KSI) in 2012.  KSI is an innovative private finance company with over $150M AUM, that owns and operates distributed renewable energy and other sustainable infrastructure projects.  He is a well respected leader in the industry with over 15 years of experience and innovation.  Prior to Kendall, he worked with a subsidiary of Edison International in California where he was part of a team that developed and acquired over $500M of energy projects and installed 250MW of utility scale wind assets.  Prior to working in infrastructure, Mr. Chaimanis was a founding member of an inner-city charter school.  Mr. Chaimanis holds an M.B.A. from Babson College (where he currently is an adjunct professor), a B.S. in Finance from Villanova University and has earned the Sustainable and Responsible Certification from US SIF.


Insight from this episode:

  • Why solar plus storage is such an important and positive trend.
  • How to add value as a partner.
  • Why trusting your clients and partners is vital to your business.
  • How to build a successful future with a partner during the first deal.
  • Why it’s vital to compare the duration of an incentive to the duration of the asset
  • The importance of working side by side with clients during the developmental process
  • The importance of perseverance in entrepreneurship
  • How personal experience can be more important to your success than education

Quotes from the show:

  • “We are seeing that more common in the industry as well, where developers are looking for help from financial providers to provide value in the development process and life cycle” Benoy Thanjan, Episode #21.
  • “As an investor you need to look at the industry you’re investing in and figure out how are you going to have an edge; what are you going to do better than any other financier in the industry?” John Chaimanis, Episode #21.
  • “What I learned is that number one has to be respect and trust” John Chaimanis, Episode #21.
  • “What I found is that it’s really great when you’re sitting in the boardroom figuring it out (contracts and agreement details) but almost every deal I’ve been a part of; within 5 days of signing that paper something comes up that you didn’t think of in that contract and that’s when you find out who people really are.” John Chaimanis, Episode #21.
  • “In the long run, we want to treat people with dignity and respect, and we want the same on our side” John Chaimanis, Episode #21.
  • “Development in my opinion – it’s very difficult to be a great developer all over the nation. It is a very regional game.” John Chaimanis, Episode #21.
  • “It’s very common for the local developers acquisition costs for customers to be a lot lower than the national provider because they have that relationship and they’re in that area so people know who they are” Benoy Thanjan, Episode #21.
  • “I love solar, I love being part of this industry. It is one of the most exciting and quickly evolving. People are motivated and energized and so many folks in the industry really believe in what we’re doing” John Chaimanis, Episode #21.
  • “As an industry, I think it would be good for us to have a more mature understanding of the way power prices are actually established.” John Chaimanis, Episode #21.
  • “It’s going to be a huge opportunity that’s going to go for years and years...the next 50-75 years especially when we reach grid parity in most states and you’re not dependent on incentives will be a gamechanger.”  Benoy Thanjan, Episode #21.
  • In regard to starting a business; “It was slow, very slow like any entrepreneur will tell you. There were bits in the beginning where I had to fill with consulting work and other things.” John Chaimanis, Episode #21
  • In regard to recommendations for other entrepreneurs; “My path was that I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur and I knew what industry I wanted to be in but I didn’t have the knowledge so I worked for a while first. And I think that’s not a bad idea for somebody that - to go out and start an advertising company cold might be a little hard but if you work in the ad space for a while and learn as much as you can, there is incredible value in that. There’s even more value in that than going to school.” John Chaimanis, Episode #21
  • In regard to recommendations for other entrepreneurs; “The second thing is perseverance. You really need to - every day - put your hardest work in, and everyday be a better you as you’re going through it.” John Chaimanis, Episode #21
  • “You need dreamers and people who are willing to push the envelope.” Benoy Thanjan, Episode #21.

Stay Connected:

Benoy Thanjan

Facebook: Reneu Energy

John Chaimanis:

Twitter: @Ksienergy

Linkedin: Kendall-Investments

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