Interview conducted by: Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor,
CEOCFOinterviews.com, Published: November 12, 2010
Mr. Green, would you give us an overview on Clear Skies?
Clear Skies Solar is a national solar integration company in the
commercial, industrial and agricultural sector. What we do is sell,
design and coordinate financing along with managing the construction and
the installation in its entirety down to the interconnection agreements
with the utilities. We also maintain the systems and we keep our fingers
on the pulse of new solar markets.
What is the geographic reach for you today?
Well we have international capabilities and before the crash of 2009 we
were starting to operate in Greece & India. For the time being, we limit
ourselves to the contiguous USA.
CEOCFO: There are a variety of types
of solar systems: what is your expertise that separates Clear Skies
Solar from the pack?
Mr. Green: The thing that separates
us from the competition is they tend to be cardboard developers meaning
when they get a live customer, they well call up one of a dozen
sub-contractor companies to handle the development etc. We on the other
hand are different. We usually get chosen based on our past performance.
Every time we show up on a project, the same people are doing each one
of those jobs, where as with other companies you never know what you are
going to get. There is an old saying that you are only as good as your
last job. We donít need to worry about that, every job is a successful
CEOCFO: Would you tell us about your
proprietary monitoring system?
Mr. Green: We received the patent
for our XTRAX in February 2008. The technology allows us to monitor
energy production from renewable energy sources and distribute the date
via our software as well. This allows system owners to affordably
monetize the production values of a given system.
CEOCFO: Would you give us an example
of a typical project?
Mr. Green: The typical project, if
we started on day one with a customer, it could take them anywhere from
60 to 90 days to make a decision. Some clients are faster, but that is
the norm. Once we have been selected, we move to final engineering, with
preliminary engineering already done to ensure viability. It is
important to check the structure and measure it to ensure that the roofs
will be able to support it. We have also performed a preliminary
electrical study to make sure that there are no violations existing and
that the electrical infrastructure can handle the load. We then move
forward with the local municipalities and utility interconnection
paperwork, which usually takes about two to four weeks. So starting from
day one, the sale, until the time you actually break ground, it can take
4 to 5 months. The longest that Iíve ever seen is six months, but that
is usually for project financing reasons. The good news is the
construction is relatively quick.
CEOCFO: Was it a smooth transition
for you getting into solar?
Mr. Green: We come from the
construction industry, which is where I have spent the last 20 to 25
years. I made the transition into the solar energy sector after making
some investments in several solar energy companies that were operating
overseas in third world countries. The more I learned about the
technology, the more I realized that it was construction, but using a
higher technology, that is when I jumped into it to test the market. In
2004, I realized that there was something viable here and we made the
transition from hard core construction, to solar energy and we
officially launched in 2006.
Do you do any new builds, or is it all retrofitting?
Mr. Green: New constructions is
rare, because the entire building really has to be constructed before we
show up and developers today have little interest in having solar
installed, they leave it for the next buyer or tenant to invest in
CEOCFO: What is the financial
picture like for the company today?
Mr. Green: Business is certainly on
the rise. In 2008, we came out very strong with $10 million in sales and
completed $3 million of that pipeline. Unfortunately, the market
collapse starting in September of 08 causing our financing to be pulled
on a $6 million project in California. For 2009, letís just call it a
disaster for everyone, we were flat for the year but this year 2010 we
produced just shy of $2 million in the 1st Quarter of 2010
with guidance for $15 million. Our expected project profit margins range
from 12% to 15% so we are looking at 2011 extremely optimistically. The
markets turning around, financing is back and we are happy to say that
we are part of that.
CEOCFO: You mentioned that you do
work with your clients on financing: is that an important part of what
Mr. Green: If we didnít have
financing available to our clients, we wouldnít have a business. You
have to be able to model internally and that makes us unique as well,
with everything from sales to engineering and the complex financial
modeling, we provide one stop shopping to our customers. In New Jersey
alone we know of 45 different billing rates which makes the job
interesting to say the least. The type of financing we offer is called
the Power Purchase Agreement, commonly known as PPA, requires no money
down from the client. The client only pays for the electricity that they
use, as a discounted rate of 20% to 30% off market. So if the client is
paying 0.15 cents right now, they will only be paying .10 cents.
Therefore, it is financially sound. However, there are people who find
it hard to grasp. It is a new technology and financial tool.
CEOCFO: Do you do much investor
Mr. Green: We are involved with
investor outreach and we do have an investor relations department,
although it is small. We are starting to do road shows again, getting
out to the markets and telling our story, because we are going to have a
very nice turnaround. We are very happy to say that we are coming back
even better and stronger.
CEOCFO: Final thoughts; put it all
together for potential investors; why pick Clear Skies Solar out of the
Mr. Green: We feel that we are
undervalued. For the financing of 2009 that we undertook in order to
maintain operations we had to take a dilution hit but we didnít have
much of a choice. However, we believe we offer a tremendous opportunity
to the investor that looks for affordable stock. We announced that we
have several contracts coming up and of course, contracts that we have
already completed. It has been a good 1st Quarter, and I
stand by my guidance for 2010.