Innovative Financing from THiNKnrg Brings One of the Largest Palo Alto Rooftop Arrays to Oshman Family JCC


THiNKnrg installs one of the largest solar rooftop arrays in Palo Alto at the Oshman Family JCC using Trina Solar’s Trinasmart Modules. The 397.5 kW solar installation is expected to save the JCC over $1.5 million in the next 20 years, while significantly reducing its carbon footprint.


Palo Alto’s second-largest solar rooftop array has been installed at the Oshman Family JCC (OFJCC) campus. Developed through a partnership with THiNKnrg, a California company that manages solar projects, the 397.5 kW system is the largest installation of Trinasmart solar panels to date.


The installation achieves two goals: reducing energy costs for the OFJCC and furthering its green building credentials. “Our Campus was built to be environmentally sensitive with many advanced features that earned us a Silver LEED certification,” said OFJCC CEO Zack Bodner. “By installing this solar rooftop, we are furthering our goal of being an ecologically progressive organization, reducing both our carbon footprint and our energy costs.”


The OFJCC solar array consists of 1,840 solar panels spread across the rooftops of the 12 buildings of the Taube Koret Campus for Jewish Life (TKCJL), which also includes Moldaw Family Residences for senior living.


The campus is expected to save $26,000 in the first year and an estimated $1.5 million over the 20-year contract. The solar system will supply approximately 20% of the OFJCC’s energy needs.


What makes a project like this possible? Organizations like the OFJCC aren’t generally able to purchase a solar system. Instead, they usually enter into a lease or Power Purchase Agreement (PPA).


That was the case for this project, which was financed by a PPA. That meant the OFJCC didn’t have to come up with any upfront capital, and the project could also take advantage of all available incentives.


Conergy, a global solar PV downstream company, along with its owner Kawa Capital Management, structured the PPA to supply the OFJCC with renewable energy at less than half the current energy rate. THiNKnrg took care of permits and clearances.


THINKnrg will sell electricity from the panels to the OFJCC at 4 cents per kWh, providing hefty savings from the 8 cents the JCC has been paying their local utility. THiNKnrg makes a profit from selling the JCC’s excess electricity — as part of the deal, the JCC must sell some energy back to THiNKnrg — and by claiming the rebates and tax credits. This kind of arrangement works well for nonprofits, which can’t get the tax credits themselves because of their tax-exempt status.


“This is one of the more innovative deals we have done,” said Zach Rubin, CEO of THiNKnrg. “Solar is advantageous in Palo Alto, but it still has to make sense financially. We identified that the Taube Koret Campus had enough quality roof space to facilitate a large installation that could take advantage of incentives and be attractive to investors. We are thrilled this project was a success and look forward to working with other organizations who could benefit from similar electricity cost savings.”


The OFJCC solar installation is expected to generate 616,920 kWh of electricity and reduce the TKCJL’s carbon footprint by approximately 9,500 tons of CO2 over the next 20 years, the equivalent of planting over 223,000 trees or removing 1,814 passenger cars from the road.