“Prospecting” is a comprehensive, high-level review in which we complete initial assessments of potential sites to locate new Project opportunities. Prospecting represents our earliest stage of Project development and addresses our core objectives: identification of sites that we believe may be suitable for development, and rudimentary analysis of site viability for solar energy Projects and completion of a fatal flaw analysis.
Our meteorology, real estate and transmission teams conduct initial “desktop” or computer-based reviews of public information, including public solar reports, land records and power transmission maps and our proprietary data, to identify significant impediments that could result in a Project's failure to satisfy our investment objectives. We also make initial assessments of potential sites based on a number of criteria, including topography; solar resource suitability; constructability; access to transmission networks; site size; land ownership; and environmental, zoning and other local and state laws and regulations, including state-sponsored RPS programs. We make these assessments taking into account our business strategy, commercial standards and targeted returns.
We also consider the capital cost, size and expansion opportunities of the proposed site and our view of the relevant electricity and REC markets.
Our prospecting effort is regionally focused and is characterized by close working relationships with local permitting authorities, communities and other significant stakeholders. We believe that by entering into dialogue with these groups early, we are better able to incorporate local concerns into our site assessment, leading to effective permit applications and expedited completion of our Projects.