Article by:
Nikki Chi
May 30, 2023
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What is Virtual Grid? How to Leverage it for New Income Generation

The energy industry is evolving rapidly, with new technologies and innovations emerging often. One of the most exciting developments for multifamily property owners in recent years is the Virtual Grid, a solar billing software that revolutionizes the distribution and monetization of an onsite solar asset. Virtual Grid enables property owners to generate new revenue by distributing solar energy to residents. Depending on the passthrough rate you choose, you could see $500 to $1200 per unit of new net operating income (NOI) with the combination of onsite solar and the Virtual Grid. In this blog post, we will explore the Virtual Grid in detail, including what it is, how it works, and how exactly you can leverage it for new income generation opportunities.

What is Virtual Grid?

Virtual Grid is more than just a solar billing software solution. It comes with the full support of the Ivy Energy team. The software itself creates a win-win solar energy experience with valuable features for both property owners and residents. Owners and their management teams can rest assured that the onsite solar benefits are being equitably shared with residents based on actual consumption. Additionally, Virtual Grid’s proprietary algorithm and utility-grade monitoring provide accurate, consumer-friendly bills for residents. This guarantees the recovery of hard costs in addition to new NOI, while also guaranteeing monthly savings to residents.

How Does Virtual Grid Work?

In the past, multifamily property owners had to rely on linear sub-metering to distribute onsite solar benefits. However, Ivy’s Virtual Grid offers a compliant, more equitable, and grid-supportive solar billing experience. Here’s how it works:

  1. Collects individual meter data for granular load monitoring. This maximizes your return on investment (ROI) and protects against excess discounting and overbilling.
  2. Determines the gross utility cost (without solar) for each resident based on actual utility rate tariffs. Virtual Grid even automatically adjusts to match utility rates as they change over time. This ensures that your residents never pay more with solar than they would have paid to the utility without solar.
  3. Manages shared solar value by calculating the unique time-of-use and real-time solar availability for each resident’s usage. With our easy-to-understand solar energy bill, residents can track their savings every month and even increase their savings by shifting their usage time to consume more solar energy.
  4. Integrates seamlessly with your existing rent ledger system. This integration helps reduce staff workload while providing data access for your management team.
  5. Handles all resident inquiries and questions. Virtual Grid includes a managed support service to make it easier than ever for your team to manage an onsite solar asset. The Ivy Energy team handles customer support so that you don’t have to.

Support that Makes Onsite Solar Management Easier

One of the major roadblocks to the implementation of multifamily solar is the added responsibility of management, billing, answering resident questions, and remaining compliant with the Independent Power Producer (IPP) code. With Virtual Grid, you have a team of energy industry experts to keep you compliant and streamline your energy asset billing operations from start to finish. This includes:

  • Overseeing all data QA operations.
  • Managing all shared solar utility administration forms and credit optimization.
  • Configuring platform variables to meet your ROI goals.
  • Dedicated account management support.
  • Managing move-in and move-out agreement updates.
  • Setup and automation of rent ledger integrated accounts receivable reporting.
  • Handling all resident customer service inquiries.

Key Features for Revenue Generation

Solar Asset Optimization

Solar asset optimization, or BAL (behind-the-meter assets and load) optimization, ensures that more of your solar kWh is consumed on your property and not exported to the grid. Why is this important? Because every kWh consumed on your property translates into more value for your solar asset. Virtual Grid includes a big data warehouse that harnesses the power of machine learning and applied data discovery to drive optimization activities for your onsite solar. This includes optimizing solar value credits, updating user incentive frameworks, and providing user engagement insights. By leveraging Virtual Grid's optimization capabilities, multifamily solar asset owners can ensure that they are getting the most out of their investments.

Distributed Energy Resource Billing

Virtual Grid’s billing engine not only simplifies the billing process but also allows you and your residents to gain stability over a volatile commodity by relying less on the energy that comes from the grid. By utilizing shared clean energy sources, residents can reduce their dependence on traditional energy sources and enjoy a more sustainable and cost-effective energy solution. With this billing engine, residents can easily track their energy usage and costs, and make informed decisions about their energy consumption. The easy-to-understand monthly bill makes the entire process simple and consumer-friendly.

ESG Reporting Data

By providing residents with access to clean energy sources, your business can make a meaningful impact on the environment while also improving your ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) compliance. And with Virtual Grid reporting, you can easily track and report on the social equity benefits of your resident-purposed solar program. Virtual Grid's reporting system provides verified data on the social equity of your program, such as the amount of energy "dollars" saved by residents and the number of kWhs converted to onsite clean energy. This data not only helps you meet ESG compliance requirements but also allows you to demonstrate the positive impact of your solar program on your community.

Shared Resource Value and User Subscription Management

Virtual Grid's automated curation of a shared ledger record enables an intelligent consolidated billing program within your communities. This framework ensures that solar benefits and associated costs are shared and recovered according to your financial goals. By automating the billing process, you can streamline your financial operations and reduce the risk of errors. But Virtual Grid doesn't stop there.  You also get the benefit of quality control oversight and asset value analytics to ensure resident satisfaction and maximize your solar investment's financial returns. By leveraging Ivy’s expertise and tools, you can ensure that your solar program is optimized for success.

Onsite Solar + Virtual Grid: The Key to Revenue Generation through New NOI

If you’re a multifamily property owner hesitant to invest in onsite solar, we get it. Multifamily solar relies on equitable distribution of the financial benefits between you and participating residents, which can be overwhelming and difficult to manage. Not to mention, it hasn’t always had a clear ROI. 

But, with Virtual Grid by Ivy, you can provide your residents with a superior solar billing experience while also boosting your bottom line. It is a game-changer for property owners looking to add a new revenue stream and improve their sustainability efforts. As the first and only onsite solar distribution and managed support offering on the market, Virtual Grid takes the hassle out of managing onsite solar by handling everything from legalities and compliance to rent ledger integration. But the benefits of Virtual Grid don't stop there. By adopting solar panels and utilizing Virtual Grid, property owners can add significant revenue to their bottom line. By leveraging the power of Virtual Grid, property owners can rest easy knowing that their solar program is optimized for success. Schedule a demo today to learn how much new NOI Ivy + Solar can add to your property.