Solar Executive MBA Training


Length: 7 weeks

Instructors: Chris LordKeith Cronin

Partner: High Performance Building Institute


The Solar Executive MBA is technical, rigorous, and challenging. It’s the most intense six-week course you’ll ever find but also the most valuable. We developed it for leaders who are responsible for the financial details that drive solar projects. The course is taught by two instructors: Keith Cronin, who built and sold his solar installation business to SunEdison in 2007, and Christopher Lord, a lawyer with deep banking experience who works with solar companies to find viable projects and investors for those projects.

Graduates from the Solar Executive MBA will learn: 1) How to quickly run the numbers to value a solar project, 2) How to price the deal to win without screwing up the project economics, and 3) How to work with investors to build good relationships that lead to future opportunities. We’ll give you the model to price commercial solar PV projects and all of the legal documents and contracts you will need to finance a project. The course is approved for 6 NABCEP continuing education units.

This course has over 12 hours of video presentations and includes Excel models and homework assignments for you to complete. Over the six-week term, the instructors host a one-hour, group call every week, during which you can ask questions and participate in discussions about that week’s material. Weekly homework assignments give you the opportunity to put your new knowledge and analytic tools to work on a real project of your choice or one provided by the instructors.

You will walk away with a fully-functioning economic model of a solar project structured as a partnership flip, a working development plan, a PV project sizing tool for calculating the size and cost of a roof-top system, and sample documents (including a PPA, EPC contract and site lease).

The Capstone project for this course means working a deal from start to finish. You'll take one of your own projects, or a sample project, through each step of the process during each week of the course, from development to financial modeling to dealing with investors, all with the expert guidance of the instructors.

Have a question? Click here to ask a question about the Solar MBA

Want to talk to a real person, right now, about the class? Call Chris Williams at 800-393-2044 ex. 33.
Tools & Documents worth $25,000

The course contains over $25,000 worth of sample legal contracts that you will need to finance a commercial solar project.

Learn From The Best

Keith and Chris have deep expertise at the highest levels of the solar business. They'll be hands-on leaders for you as you earn the Solar Executive MBA.

This Is A Challenging, Time-Intensive Course

The most common feedback we get on this course is that it's much more challenging and intense than expected. We're going to ask a lot of you and push your limits, but you'll thank us for it. Be sure to set aside enough time to work through the material while the course is officially in session. The materials will be available to you for a year, but Keith and Chris will only answer discussion board questions during the posted course dates.

You Will Be Using Microsoft Excel

You'll need a recent version of Microsoft Excel and an intermediate level of skill using the software in order to be successful in this course.

Note: This course is not a full Master's Degree in Business Administration

This course doesn't offer college credit toward a degree. Rather, it's an intense, targeted learning experience for professionals who need to build a very specific skill set.

Commercial solar is all about financing and structuring the deal. While I had previously spent quite a bit of time doing financial analysis of solar PV systems, the Solar Executive MBA course provided me with the big picture of how all the pieces fit together. Not to mention the value of interacting with the instructors on questions specific to my situation. I highly recommend this course.

- Dennis Kready, Kready Solarbazaar

We have taken several courses and workshops on EPC, PPA, finance, and energy policy. After completing the Solar Executive MBA program at HeatSpring, this program was superior to all. It provides well-designed video, support materials, case studies, and promoted student interaction. Instructors are extremely well-versed in the subjects and responses to student questions were immediate. For individuals, non-profit organizations, and for-profit companies, the HeatSpring Solar Executive MBA program is a 'must take.'

- Willis White, Solar OverSight

Earn Continuing Education Credits

Approved for 6 NABCEP CEUs

Your Instructors


Chris Lord

CapIron, Inc.

Christopher J. Lord is a lawyer with deep banking experience, and the Managing Director of CapIron, Inc., a firm he founded in late 2011, to provide advisory and consulting services to customers, owners, developers, utilities, suppliers, installers and distributors covering the full range of value-add in renewable energy and energy efficiency. CapIron has provided...[more]


Keith Cronin

SunHedge LLC

Keith Cronin is an in-demand business consultant, speaker and founder of The Solar Business Blueprint, a life changing training program that assists business owners with the tools, resources and metrics needed to grow and manage their solar businesses. He has helped solar companies achieve their goals through his training, speeches, coaching sessions and products....[more]

Course Outline


Complete all of these required steps to earn the 'Solar Executive MBA.' You'll also earn the enduring respect of your classmates and instructor and have a portfolio of legal documents and financial calculators to use on future projects: 1) Watch 100% of the video presentations 2) Submit 90% of the homework assignments 3) Complete Your Capstone Project. Note: We're going to ask you to use Excel!

WELCOME - Orientation Materials

This course is SELF-PACED, so you don’t need to be ‘logged in’ at any specific time. We'll have two optional Q&A sessions that will happen LIVE during Weeks 3 & 6. Expect to dedicate an average of 5 hours per week, but you can work ahead or catch up if you fall behind. Keep in mind that we (Keith & Chris) will be there to answer your questions and help you learn for the duration of the course. We'll also set aside optional 'office hours' where you can call in and talk live if you like. We won't be on duty outside the course dates, so ask all your questions while we're in session. You will also have access to all of the online materials for a full year.

WEEK 1 - Development Plan

What are the 6 most critical things to consider for your project? We will go through the stages of a development plan at a high level in this video series and provide you with a scheduling tool to allow you to know quickly whether or not an opportunity will provide you with the necessary returns you're looking for and help you manage risk. The 6 critical items are: Site Control, Permitting, Power Offtake, Project Financing, Interconnection, and Engineering. Often we've discovered that these critical items are either overlooked or don't become a high priority. By not combing through this process early, many solar integrators, developers, and finance partners end up chasing too many deals, draining resources that could be put to better use to generate higher people and financial returns for all parties. The homework assignment will be to create a Project Development Plan for the scenario we have provided. Make the plan as comprehensive as possible and make it as "local" as possible. The presentation you submit must be in Excel and should take approximately 2 hours to complete. Use the Discussion Board to post any questions you may have.

WEEK 2 - Sizing DG System and Economic Modeling Basics

In this second week of our class, with an overview of project planning and our Development Plan exercise behind us, we are now ready to size the PV System and tackle the economic modeling to determine if the project is financially viable. This week's curriculum is divided into two distinct lessons: 1. Distributed Generation Sizing: We've created a sample Distributed Generation project for you to provide us with a proposal for, on your company letterhead. Take the time to assess the electric bill and bifurcate out the actual energy usage from the demand usage at the facility to come up with a true cost per kWh for electricity for your proposal. With the provided Excel tool, figure out how much solar you can put on the roof of the building and how much energy the system will create. Use the provided electric bill, Excel calculator, and follow the homework assignment. 2. Economic Modeling: For modeling, we are going to cover some basic commands, formulas and functions within Excel that will enable us to build a successful financial model of our proposed PV System. We will look at the Naming function, PMT function, If . . . Then constructions (simple and complex), IRR & NPV, LOOKUP, IFERROR, MAX, MIN, Compounding and Data Validation. Once we are comfortable with these basic commands, formulas and functions, we will graduate to our Demo Solar PV Project model. Using this fully functional model for our guide, we will take a close look at planning and structuring a Solar PV model, including some basic good housekeeping practices and organization. We will then take an in-depth tour to see how the individual modules and worksheets come together to create a look at the unstructured economics of a project and how a partnership flip works for such a project. We will focus for a close up look at the debt module, depreciation module and calculation of IRR & NPV. You will then have an opportunity for your homework assignment to build your own solar model. We will provide you with a template that shows all or most of your inputs and the necessary steps to create the unstructured view and the partnership flip view. Your task will be to build the formulas within the model the arrive at useful outputs.

WEEK 3 - Risk Management and Budgeting

Solar developers often win jobs due to their allocations of labor, overhead, and profits. What if there was a way to identify, measure, track and know these KPI's and share them with your team? In part 1 of this week's lesson, we go deep into your company's labor, overhead, and budgeting to give you a sense of what your costs are and how you can manage around them and make adjustments along the way. As a part of our continuing understanding of how to model the economics of our projects using our completed (or in process) demo model that we began last week, we are going to lock at the various project incentives and subsidies available to Solar projects around the country. There are four main categories - Federal Tax, State Tax, Direct Incentives and SRECs. We will also familiarize ourselves with DSIRE and take a look at Feed-In Tariffs. For the last part of this class, we will consider how how prospective investors will value our project, and the implications of their methods. LIVE Q+A CALL THIS WEEK.

WEEK 4 - Request for Proposal & Financing Strategies

This week, we will respond to a Request for Proposal. RFP’s come out often across the globe and in your jurisdiction and understanding the requirements of a RFP and if you can meet them are critical to your success. Watch the videos on the RFP and respond to the RFP on your company contract documents. Ask questions inside the discussion board if you have any questions. In addition, we will cover the long anticipated material on solar pv financial structures, specifically the Partnership Flip, Sale-Leaseback and Pass-Through Lease (sometimes referred to as the Inverted Lease). We will also take a look at risk management in the context of project financing. Specific topics here include Insolation Risk, Leverage and Credit Risk.

WEEK 5 - Contract Document Explanation- Video Lessons- Why, What, How and Who Explained

As you grow your solar business, what documents you need in order to create your LOI, Land Lease, MOU, PPA, Site Lease, SPE, O&M Agreement, EPC Agreement, etc. are vital to your strategy. We will walk you through the sections in these documents, anecdotal stories and perspectives about what they are and how you will use them. An outgrowth of your Development Plan must be the Resource Management Plan. An important part of the Resource Plan is recognizing what work is best done inside vs. outside. Managing employees and contractors will be our focus of this final module because this is where you'll spend all of your time once the project is approved.

WEEK 6 - Where it all comes together

We will walk through our (completed) models to summarize where we got our data, and how we used it in the model, to assess the strength and financial value of our proposed project. We will also stitch together the economic model, cost modeling, development plan to give you one place to determine system price to make it flow to the modeling.

BONUS SECTION - Clarify Questions about your Project

Now that you've worked a sample project, or one of your own projects, through a development process, financial modeling, and dealing with investors, with expert guidance from the instructors on each step, you should have a firm grasp of everything that goes into a deal and a high-quality finished product to show for all your work. This is your last chance to ask any remaining questions that you have about any part of your project. LIVE Q+A CALL THIS WEEK.

AFTER THE COURSE - Feedback, Industry Contacts, Resources, and Tools for Continued Success

Now that you've completed the course, give us your thoughts on how it went, connect with your classmates and other industry professionals, and showcase your new skills.

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