Toronto-based distributed solar shop OYA Solar has made two senior hires for its recently opened office in Midtown Manhattan.
Scott Lechky has joined as cfo, having worked as a director at private equity firm Antarctica Capital for the past year, while Robert Schwartz has started as head of the U.S. commercial business, having moved from NRG Energy.
OYA opened its New York office in January and is focusing its efforts on the state, specifically with 25 community solar projects it aims to bring online using the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority’s Value of Distributed Energy Resources (VDER) 25-year incentive program.
Aside from New York state, OYA is also eyeing Massachusetts and Illinois, as are other distributed solar developers, drawn to favorable state incentive schemes.
(For more insight, see PFR's Distributed Solar Roundtable, PFR, 3/22.)
The new cfo, Lechky, is a former investment banker with experience handling M&A and capital markets transactions at Barclays, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Credit Suisse. He has also worked at Fluor Corp., TAL Private Management, Taylor NGL and AIMCo.
Schwartz, meanwhile, most recently worked as a director of business development in NRG's distributed solar team in San Francisco.
NRG bought four community solar projects in Minnesota totaling 28 MW (DC) from OYA last year (PFR, 3/27/18). The projects have contracts with Xcel Energy.
Schwartz has also previously held roles at consulting firm Pace Harmon and SPG Solar.
OYA was founded in 2009 by former Merrill Lynch investment banker Manish Nayar and has thus far been funded internally and through project sales.
While it will continue to sell projects before notice to proceed if the opportunity arises, its own project finance strategy involves aggregating five to six projects into 30 MW portfolios in order to attract debt and tax equity so that it can bring them to commercial operations itself.
An institutional equity raise—like those being run for GE Solar (PFR, 3/12) and Sol Systems (PFR, 1/14) for example—is not expected any time soon, though Lechky will be on the lookout for debt in the form of an aggregation facility.
“Given the rapid evolution of distributed solar and various state legislation, the life cycle for an early-stage development project can be as short as six months," he says, "which is why OYA would procure a flexible credit facility so that if an M&A or project finance opportunity comes up, we can move on it quickly."