Solar Power’s Mr. Sunshine

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When discussing solar power these days, the name Jigar Shah comes up often. The founder and former CEO of SunEdison, the nation’s largest solar power provider, Shah formulated a new way to finance the construction and operation of commercial solar equipment, from rooftop arrays to larger ground-based solar farms.

“SunEdison customers pay nothing for their solar systems,” writes Michael Behar in a profile of Shah for OnEarth magazine. “Instead they sign what is known as a power-purchasing agreement, or PPA,” a pact to buy the electricity the system produces at a set price for at least 10 years.

Common in the coal, oil, nuclear, and natural gas industries, the PPA is new to solar and has attracted customers including the Kohl’s department store chain, which now has SunEdison arrays on the rooftops of 67 stores.

Anyone interested in the future of solar will want to check out the OnEarth article, which transcends its personal-profile angle to capture the state of the solar industry without getting too wonky.

Which reminds us: We also recently saw Shah turn up on the EnviroWonk blog, speaking about the effects of the recent stimulus bill on the solar industry. The outlook? Sunny, of course.

In remarks to an audience of businesspeople at a solar conference, Shah said this year would get “some growth, but 2010 will have amazing growth.”

Sources: OnEarth, EnviroWonk

Image courtesy of SunEdison.

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