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Powering and Empowering Communities through Solar Energy


West Michigan developer targets Opportunity Zones for solar projects

MUSKEGON — A West Michigan solar energy developer is pursuing new projects and job-training in low-income communities across the state that qualify for tax relief under recent federal tax reforms.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 created qualified Opportunity Zones that allow investors to defer taxes on capital gains meant to spur development in low-income areas. While most projects involve real estate development, some developers across the U.S. are beginning to explore the potential for renewable energy in Opportunity Zones.

Rob Rafson, founder of Muskegon-based Chart House Energy LLC, says he has multiple projects lined up in these zones over the next two years.

A key component of his projects is job training for residents in low-income communities. He has $5 million of projects expected in 2019 and at least $15 million in 2020.

“We think this Opportunity Fund we’re developing is going to allow us to not just build solar in these communities, but create permanent jobs in these communities,” Rafson said.

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Energy developers unclear of role as Consumers plans major shift toward solar

Questions remain over the role for third-party developers planning billions of dollars in solar investment across the state. As the cost of solar continues to decline, companies see opportunity to develop utility-scale projects in Michigan under the federal Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978, or PURPA. Under the law, utilities are required to purchase renewable energy from third parties if it can be done at cost or cheaper than what the utility would pay to do it itself, which is known as the avoided cost.

Most PURPA contracts in Michigan are for hydroelectric, landfill gas or biomass projects, but developers see solar as the next frontier in the state. Here and in other states, though, utilities have challenged the cost of those projects in ways that critics say make them uneconomical for developers.

Since Consumers filed its IRP in mid June, developers and their trade groups are uncertain at best on the issue, while others are concerned they will be shut out from utility-scale projects.

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Solar in Your Community Challenge Workshop - Sunday, September 10, 2017 from 9:00-12:00

Chart House Energy invites you to kick off this year’s Solar Power International Conference in Las Vegas with company president, Rob Rafson, who will be speaking at the “Solar in Your Community Challenge Workshop” on Sunday, September 10 at the Mandalay Bay Conference Center. The workshop will be held in Surf Room A from 9:00am to 12:00pm. Read More >


Congress extends tax credits for solar and wind energy through 2020. Read More >

Solar power could meet 10% of energy needs in the United States by 2030, and reduce the US$350 billion to import oil every year. Read more >

The report, Building a Solar Future: Repowering America’s Homes, Businesses & Industry with Solar Energy. 
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CLEAN ENERGY TRENDS 2013 from Clean Edge
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Solar energy has never been more popular – and it's no wonder why. Global oil supplies are growing scarce and more expensive every year, and we are all too aware of the multifaceted perils of continuing our dependence on fossil fuels. So now is the perfect time to make an investment in the world's most abundant renewable energy resource – sun power.
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Solar Jobs Training Program

Chart House Energy partnered with the City of Ypsilanti and SolarYpsi to enter the Department of Energy’s Solar In Your Community Challenge. The goal of the challenge is to bring solar energy to low-to-moderate income communities, but Rob Rafson and his team have taken it a step further by developing a program that brings high paying solar JOBS to low-income residents of economically distressed communities.

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Our goal is to chart a path through all of these changing technical, environmental and financial pressures to create an optimal blend of economic return and environmental impact. Chart House Energy will take best advantage of the winds of government initiatives including incentives, waves of technological changes, currents of utility costs and avoid the rocky shores of our uncertain economic times. Creating a pool of renewable energy property which will produce a stable cash flow long into the future.


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