Will going solar attract more customers?

Posted online

According to a 2017 international study by Unilever, 33% of consumers are choosing to buy from brands they believe are committed to having a positive social and environmental impact. Additionally, a 2015 study by Harvard University found companies committed to corporate social responsibilities, like green energy, significantly outperformed firms that weren’t.  

Meet the Expert

John Cook is a founding member of Solera Energy, LLC, a  recognized leader in commercial & industrial (C&I) and residential solar, and a company that focuses its talents on solar investment strategies for businesses, not-for profits, utility companies, municipalities, colleges and universities, multi-family housing developers, residential homeowners, and National and regional solar tax equity investors.

After years of Public Accounting experience, Cook launched his career in renewable energy upon joining Gardner Solar, LLC in February 2016 as Executive Vice President of Investments where he focused on solar energy investment strategies for Gardner Solar’s growing in-house solar portfolio and those of its investment partners. In early 2019, Cook was elected President of Gardner Solar where he worked with the company’s executive management group, utility company consulting group, solar development and solar finance groups, and asset management team in evaluating solar development partnership opportunities, executing strategic solar power plant acquisitions, structuring solar portfolio disposition transactions, and implementing long-term investment strategies in the C&I and utility scale segments of the solar energy market. From 2016 through 2020, Cook successfully raised long-term debt and investor tax equity totaling more than $225 million used for installation of more than 150 megawatts of solar currently operating in Missouri, Kansas, and North Carolina. In 2020, the C&I operations of Solera Energy, LLC and Gardner Solar, LLC were combined, and Cook transitioned to Solera Energy, LLC, where he currently serves as Chief Executive, Commercial & Industrial Solar Investment Group.

Prior to founding Solera Energy, LLC and joining Gardner Solar, LLC, Cook served as a tax partner at National accounting firm BKD, LLP, headquartered in Springfield, MO, where he was a member of the firm’s National Construction and Real Estate Group. At BKD, LLP, Cook accumulated more than 20 years of public accounting experience where he provided tax consulting and compliance services for clients in the affordable housing, market rate housing, student housing, historic preservation, and commercial real estate industries. While at BKD, LLP, Cook also provided consulting, tax planning, accounting and valuation services for real estate investors, tax credit syndicators, private equity firms, family offices, real estate development groups and construction companies, as well as property management and real estate holding companies. Cook has also served three years as the Chief Financial Officer for one of the largest National affordable housing and market rate real estate development and Low- Income Housing tax credit syndication firms in the Mid-western region.

Cook has been a speaker at national and state conferences on topics involving the historic rehabilitation, low-income housing, and new markets tax credits and has authored articles on numerous real estate and tax credit investing topics. He was a speaker at several annual National Council of State Housing Agencies’ Housing Credit Conferences, annual Missouri Governor’s Conferences, the IMN Winter Forum on Real Estate Opportunity & Private Fund Investing, and at Missouri Workforce Housing Conferences. Cook has testified numerous times at the Missouri State Capital in front of the Joint Committee on Tax Policy.

Cook was extensively involved in authoring and presenting at the Missouri Governor’s Conference, the “Cost/Benefit Analysis of the Missouri Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program”, a collaborative project involving BKD, LLP and Missouri State University, and commissioned by the Missouri Housing Development Commission. This analytical project focuses on the costs and benefits derived from Missouri’s LIHTC program and continues to be reference material for tax policy makers and legislators alike.

Cook received his Bachelor of Science in Accounting, graduating Summa Cum Laude, and his Master of Arts in Accounting, from Missouri State University, Springfield, Missouri. Cook was a member of Phi Delta Theta Fraternity while attending MSU and is proud to be a top 5 contributor towards the construction, development, and financing of the Fraternity’s current house on MSU’s campus. Cook has run numerous marathons over the years and is a lifelong and continuing motorcycle and sports car enthusiast.