Dec 27, 2023

Noelle Paige: How to Prepare Your Project for NTP

We recently sat down with Onyx VP of Development, Noelle Paige, to learn about how her team manages such complexity to bring projects across the finish line. 

To many developers, preparing a project for notice to proceed (NTP) can feel like trying to sprint through a minefield. From land siting and system design to navigating the gauntlet of local laws, permitting, and interconnection requirements, every project step could lead to added costs and delays. What’s more, each element must be meticulously tracked and clearly documented for a wide range of stakeholders to understand the project’s operational credibility and long-term profitability. 

Despite this grueling process and the growing complexities of today’s energy landscape, Onyx Renewables has completed an operating portfolio of over 380 renewable energy projects with a development pipeline spanning 35 states. We recently sat down with Onyx VP of Development, Noelle Paige, to learn about how her team manages such complexity to bring projects across the finish line. 

How does your team approach preparing a project or portfolio for NTP? 

First and foremost, we deliver documentation that is consistent, comprehensive, and organized. From day one, we operate as if a lot of different people will be looking at our project and reviewing our project notes. This includes people who are not developers, so they likely have different perspectives or may not have all of the context that we have as the developer. 

In practice, this means building and maintaining a huge data room with organized data collection and management, as well as checklists that enable us to provide exactly the information that different stakeholders want to see. This enables us to get ahead of any data discrepancies or issues when scrubbing a project for NTP. Even common changes like the nameplate capacity or project name can be interpreted as red flags by an accountant, bank, or lawyer, if not fully documented or clearly explained by our team. 

How has the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) impacted your team’s work? 

For us, the IRA really just adds more layers to consider, whether it’s calculating domestic content or tracking local wage and labor laws, or any of the other tax credits and potential adders available. We already diligently track project details, and the IRA reinforces for us the need for documentation consistency, diligence, and organization. 

We are approaching IRA eligibility as we do for everything else: document everything. That way, we mitigate the risk of scrambling to gather data in the eleventh hour. 

How does your team stay on top of all of the changes in today’s development landscape? 

Today, Onyx is either operating or developing in over 35 states, and we pride ourselves in our ability to jump into anything. While other developers have market-specific team members that specialize by state, we have seen a lot of success in fostering a team of continuous learners. That means that we research the details of every market we enter: interconnection, local regulations and permitting, property tax, solar abatements… And we stick to our checklists every time to make sure everything is accounted for in the development process. Sometimes it feels a little silly that after hundreds of times, we still use checklists – but sticking to this process ensures that we don’t miss a single thing. 

Our team’s integrated expertise gives us an advantage as well. For example, I have personally spent a lot of time on finance teams and working on transactions, which means I can look at projects from the lens of a financing party or buyer to ensure that my team is providing everything from that perspective. 

Lastly, we have fantastic partners with whom we have great long-term working relationships. Our consistent collaboration and a high level of transparency make it easier for us to navigate complexity and communicate effectively. 

What are your recommendations for navigating today’s changing development landscape?

Honestly, the development landscape is always changing. Take permitting, for example, which can have different processes, requirements, and classifications in every county, town, or even piece of land. I’d recommend not shying away from perceived complexities simply because they seem to be “less than ideal,” like brownfield sites. It’s important that in this industry, we are taking calculated steps to ensure sustainable development, and utilizing otherwise unusable land is one way for us to do so.