2017 was a good year for solar in the USA but a very good year for me. I sold most of my solar company in 2017, which helped to generate a profit in the 8-figure range. Nearly all of that profit was used to pay down debt at my solar company, causing total debt & liabilities to drop from over $100 Million in 2015 to about $3 Million in late 2017. That’s a huge weight off my shoulders and those my partners in the company, obviously. And, selling the company gives me the time freedom to do more ninja training and spend more time with my family, both of which are very important to me.
Other key milestones and updates:
- We completed another utility-scale solar project, this one inWisconsin on a landfill in Eau Claire, WI, which happens to be the largest community solar project in the state at 1 million watts (1 megawatt). It produces enough energy for the communities in the area to power the equivalent usage of about 300 homes. Many thanks to Wunder
Capital, Industry Capital, The RAQ, B&B Electric, the City of Eau Claire, XCEL Energy, Sustainable Solar Services Corp, and the many other parties who helped make this project a reality despite numerous challenges. The project uses 40-kilowatt high-efficiency string inverters from Growatt, solar panels from South Korea’s Hansol, racking from Michigan’s The RAQ, and monitoring systems from Also Energy. The project took approximately 2 and 1/2 years to develop to “shovel-ready” status, and yet only about 3 months to construct once all permits and electrical grid interconnection studies were complete. See YouTube below (be sure to like & subscribe to my @SolarNinjaTroy YouTube channel!).
- Former employees. After selling the 3 primary divisions of Pristine Sun LLC to buyers, each of the buyers has taken the “shovel-ready” or nearly fully developed projects and finished construction. This has caused hundreds of millions of dollars of Pristine Sun-developed projects to become operational, representing enough clean electricity to power tens of thousands of homes. All former Pristine Sun employees should feel very proud of their contributions to these projects that caused this all to be possible! Most of the Pristine Sun employees went to work for the buyers of our projects, and most of the rest ended up working at other solar companies. Employee staff obligations were paid in full as part of those sales, although some portions of outstanding employee obligations of managers and executives (excluding any unsupported claims by disgruntled former employees who were laid off prior to the sale(s) closings) are to be paid on an “earn-out” basis by the buyers, Pristine Sun’s largest shareholder (that’s not me; I’m the 2nd biggest shareholder), and/or the last remaining corporate lender of Pristine Sun, upon achievement of certain milestones. Executive compensation payments that may be due (upon achievement of certain milestones) will be paid last, after any other milestone-based payments or other obligations are paid 100% to all non-executives. Many of those milestones were achieved in 2017, although some are expected to be achieved in 2018. My substantial personal earn-out, including bonuses and unpaid wages, and distributions of any profits as the founder and 2nd largest shareholder of Pristine Sun, will be paid out over about 5 years on a milestone basis, but only AFTER all other non-executive employee obligations are satisfied first (again, excluding any unsupported claims by disgruntled former employees).
- Floating Solar. In 2017, the United States Patent & Trademark Office awarded patent pending status to 11 patents on floating solar technology. I am a co-inventor, along with our senior engineer Kenny Forrest, on the patents. See www.FloatoRack.com. .The potential for placing solar on bodies of water is enormous. Benefits include: reduces water losses to evaporation by up to 80%, reduces algae growth (which clogs filters & pumps in lakes and ponds) by a similar percentage, keeps the panels clean (due to daily rinsing via sprinklers, using the water underneath) which avoids the “soiling losses” of up to 40% endured by solar projects in areas with air pollution and/or dry, dusty climates, and keeps the panels cooler (due to the lower temperature of the water) which makes them up to 5% more efficient (solar panels are semi-conductors and therefore lose efficiency when they get hot). We are developing numerous floating solar projects in various regions, on wastewater treatment ponds, drinking water reservoirs (where recreation is limited or forbidden altogether), and even ocean waters.
- World-changing technology. Also in 2017, several additional patents were granted patent pending status by the U.S. P.T.O., and I am the sole inventor of these particular patents. These are for technologies for a company that started developing a world-changing technology (also in the energy and infrastructure sector) in 2013. Equipment was ordered in late 2017 to build the first prototype at a secret location in the Silicon Valley San Francisco Bay Area. Stay tuned for more information on this company and its products, as we hope to come out of “stealth” mode in mid-2018.
- Additional solar projects. In 2017, I partnered with Industry Capital where I am an Operating Principal (and a minority owner of the solar fund, Cratus Energy). We began investing significant capital into developing floating solar projects in Sonoma County and San Diego County, California, as well as additional projects in Wisconsin, North Carolina, South Carolina and a few other areas. The pipeline of solar projects available to develop within this partnership exceeds 7,000 megawatts (MW), which if they were all built would be about $10 Billion of assets. Not all of them will be developed or built, due to some that will encounter fatal flaws with permitting, grid interconnection, or the availability of project finance at a reasonable cost of capital. However, over the next five years, the partnership expects to build at least $2 Billion worth of clean solar energy power plants in dozens of communities across America.