Carpe Diem Blue Sky Power: Ben Parvey and Matt Stanger are Helping to Create A Greener FutureMar 01, 2011 02:37PM ● By Linda Sechrist
The fact that New Jersey is one the hottest places in the United States for solar energy these days has nothing to do with the number of sunny days that its residents enjoy. Rather, it reflects the state’s progressive clean energy laws and high electricity costs, a combination of factors, which has encouraged some 6,971 solar projects to date—second only to California’s burgeoning solar market, which currently reports 66,000 solar installations. Much of New Jersey’s success is due to its Solar Financing Model, which relies on high renewable energy standards and the use of Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SREC).
Considered an innovative leader among states, New Jersey’s SREC system encourages residential and commercial property owners to invest in solar. The state’s SREC’s, which can be traded through online exchange companies listed on the New Jersey Clean Energy program website, are the most generous in the nation, giving homeowners and commercial businesses approximately $650 for every 1,000 kWh megawatt-hour of electricity they generate from sun power. This is more than twice the amount offered by any other state for SRECs sold on the SREC system. SREC holders earn returns on their investment with this revenue stream, as well as with their electric savings. In addition, they benefit from a federal tax credit of 30 percent of the cost of a system installation.
Already at the pinnacle of their law careers, Ben Parvey and his partner Matt Stanger, co-founders of Blue Sky Power, were looking at the future when they left a successful law practice behind to start their own business. “We were thinking ahead and envisioning how we could be part of creating a future that was going to be greener and cleaner for our families,” says Parvey. The two took their law experience in public finance and land use, vision, drive, and desire to do something beneficial for society, to the Wharton Small Business center in 2007 to get help putting together their business plan. In 2008, they were ready to leave the law firm behind to start up Blue Sky Power. “I joke that Matt and I are recovering attorneys,” says Parvey, but actually I use my extensive knowledge of finance law as it applies to putting together large infrastructure projects and Matt uses his background and experience as a land use lawyer and engineer to invest in the revitalization of Camden. The two are happy working on the types of projects they are passionate about (clean energy capital projects) and working for the types of clients—universities, governments, school districts, institutions, commercial and industrial facilities—who are also interested in making a difference and investing in America’s future as a leader in creating green jobs and a green economy.
“Putting people to work in green jobs makes dollars and cents to Parvey and Stanger. “The next economic mega-trend is in green jobs and clean energy,” explains Parvey, “and America is either going to be out front or behind. Germany and Spain are already leading the way in solar and wind production. America had the lead 18 months ago, now we are surpassed by China.”
Parvey and Stanger are practical and realistic dreamers with their feet firmly planted on the ground in their community. “Our vision for Camden and America is one in which clean energy, generated by solar and other renewable forms of energy, creates jobs—in the re-engineering of manufacturing equipment, production, shipping and all the other kinds of service providers that typically grow up around a new industry. “We all have to let go of the bipartisanship of this issue and pull together to reduce our demand for oil and make a clean energy economy happen,” declares Parvey.