Rob Hymes: Designing an Electrified Future With Solar, Storage, and EV Charging

by | Apr 12, 2024

The renewables space has always been a purpose-driven field. Led by passionate individuals looking to redistribute energy, increase independence, and create a sustainable future, the industry is driven by innovation and ideals. Only recently have those goals aligned with profit—especially in the commercial space.

Rob Hymes, Chief Development Officer of Mynt Systems, is a veteran of the alternative energy game and no stranger to its mission. With over 2 decades of experience designing, installing, and managing renewable projects, Robs brings power and change to a growing number of Commercial and Industrial (C&I) properties.

Through new technology and approaches, Rob and Mynt systems are moving the world towards a future with sustainable and redistributed power. And, a big part of that movement is the link between solar, storage, and Electric Vehicle (EV) charging.


Forging a Path in Renewables 

Rob’s start in renewables wasn’t in the back office, it was on the front lines as a tradesman in the early days of the industry. As far back as 2000, he was building off-the-grid micro homes in the mountains outside of Boulder and working as lead electrician for the largest C&I solar installer in the country. Learning all he could, he rose through the ranks to manage some of their bigger projects, working on a few of the first megawatt trackers in California.

After some time, Rob wanted to take what he learned in the field and apply it to projects from an operational viewpoint. He knew that he had a background in the on-site details and wanted to apply those skills to pull stakeholders together, design projects, and develop programs. “Getting into this in the early days,” he says, “I knew what it took to get these things built, how much they cost, and where the codes, incentives, energy economics and everything lined up: that sweet spot. Very few people at the time knew that, and it gave me a little bit of an edge.”

From there, his career took a number of surprising turns. After a chance encounter with SolarCity CEO, Landon Rive, at a gas station, he spent time as a construction manager during the company’s heyday. He then started his own boutique, high-end residential solar company and got into C&I development with one of the first micro-utilities in the United States.

But Rob wanted to start something of his own in the commercial space.


Mynt Systems: Purpose-Driven Development

In search of greener pastures, Rob moved to Santa Cruz, unexpectedly met Derek and Corrina Hansen, and felt an instant connection to their mission and purpose. “Immediately, it was fireworks. We were all on the same path. I was trying to start something very similar, and they had already started it,” he says, “So I said, ‘let’s just join forces and do this.”

This was the genesis of Mynt systems, a new breed of turnkey Energy General Contractor (EGC) for commercial clean energy.. Working with property owners, developers, and investors, they do everything from consulting and engineering to complete construction. From combating increasing utility prices to working with allies like King Energy, they make renewable energy happen for the commercial space.

More importantly, Rob and the Mynt team are driven by a purpose: to help the world participate in clean energy. In fact, the org has published a manifesto calling for an equitable, decentralized electric future. “I’ve always been trying to find a way to use the knowledge that I’ve gained, my skills, and my smarts to facilitate this transition,” he says, “I’ve always been an advocate and huge supporter of environmental justice and an economy focused on the triple bottom line. And so solar was really more of a mission and a way to facilitate the change that I knew needed to happen.”


A Profitable Evolution of Renewable Partnerships

Although growth is happening everywhere, Rob sees EV charging as the next big front for the clean energy movement. But with growth comes unrest, especially for commercial owners looking to bring EV charging on site. “Similar to solar and energy storage 5-10 years ago, EV’s have this rapidly expanding and changing landscape,” he says, “there’s all these tech providers, all these networks, all this press, good and bad, around them, and all these terms that get thrown around. It’s complex, and can be confusing.”

Fortunately, there are industry veterans like Rob who have learned from the previous renewable revolutions that have come before and can apply that knowledge to this quick-moving technology. Using their understanding of the infrastructure, technology, and incentives, partners like Mynt help ensure the success of EV charging projects. “What we have found,” he says ”is that in these early days, it’s really about partnering with reliable technology providers that have a strong ability to maintain and manage these assets.”

Rob recommends that owners looking for EV chargers work with a trusted partner to help them make sense of the technology and develop a real, long-term strategy. In this industry, there’s always a simple path presenting itself to owners, but that option might not necessarily be the most beneficial—or lucrative. 

This route to EV charging involves contracting with a network services provider to bring chargers on site, operate and manage them, but while simple, this often offers no fair share for the landlord. “As an owner, you’re leaving a ton of money on the table, he says, “so working with someone like us will help you structure a deal where you won’t have to necessarily own and operate, but at least you can share in some of that upside that you’d be basically just giving away.”

These agreements involve working with a partner to develop systems that enable the owner to participate in its advantages. Whether that’s a leasing agreement, revenue share, or ownership stake, property owners can use their commercial space to increase revenue and NOI. “A company like Mynt can manage and take care of it all, maintenance, etc., but there could be some kind of ownership participation,” he says, “And so they’d be able to get some of their fair share from what we think is a very profitable new asset class.”


Linking Solar, Storage, and Charging

For Rob, one of the best parts about the future of clean tech—solar, storage, and EV charging—is that they’re all intertwined and part of a green future. Plus, having all three is an essential part of a commercial-scale program’s success, giving property owners lots to consider when choosing a provider.

While each of these technologies could be brought to a commercial site by different, unique vendors, Rob recommends working with a single partner to keep operations standardized and simplified. With industry moving so quickly, having multiple vendors managing multiple networks can get completely out of hand. “I think property owners, especially retail property owners, are dealing with dozens of tenants and the ever shifting landscape of commercial real estate. I think having another myriad of diverse, diversified vendors just seems like that would be more of a headache than anything,” he says. 

But with each of these three parts managed and operated by a single partner, a renewable energy program can work efficiently and profitably. Solar generates energy from the sun, storage allows tenants and EV drivers to use it at the most opportune time, and EV charging brings locally produced zero emissions power to the vehicles frequenting the center. Rob says that “just purely from an economic standpoint, if you can generate the energy that you’re providing to vehicles on site, you’re gonna win and you’re going to be ahead, rather than paying the utility.”


Evolving to Meet Complex Needs at Scale

While energy needs at a single site can be complicated enough, renewable energy becomes more complicated at scale. Rob recommends leveraging a veteran partner’s experience to design the right program for a commercial portfolio. Different locations have different utilities, energy rates, demographics, utilization, and more, so no one-stop-shop solution is right across a network of sites.

Each element of the system also has different considerations. Individually, Rob says that solar and storage are dependent on regional utility considerations, while EVs are more dependent on the property itself. On one hand, the energy savings of solar vary based on the energy rates of the area, and on the other, optimizing the value of EV depends on consumer demand. 

With a solar partner asking the right questions, these programs can operate at maximum efficiency. From determining the right number and placement of EV charging stations to deciding on the number of panels and the size of the battery, these details are an important piece of success. We now have access to great resources with bankable EV charging data from the first few years of our collective experience, which enables us to craft highly synergistic solutions.

And, with all three working efficiently in tandem, commercial property owners can have a winning combination—both for their building and their tenants. “If you’ve got solar, and storage, and you’re actually feeding these cars fuel that’s zero emission electricity generated on-site with the sun, that’s a pretty cool story,” he says. “I know most tenants, most brands, they’re all very much about being able to say we’re sustainable, or powered by the sun, or offer zero emissions charging to customers. All of those things are super valuable to small and large businesses who make up the bulk of most multi-tenant retail centers.”


An Electrified Future for the Commercial Space

In addition to the lucrative upsides for property owners, Rob sees the industry’s continuing innovations as important to furthering the energy transition. As the market grows, new approaches and technology make solar, storage, and EV charging increasingly accessible, affordable, and equitable for properties of all kinds. 

Particularly, he sees commercial properties as the next frontier for renewable energy adoption, and he looks to working with King Energy as a core piece of Mynt’s platform in that space.  “Part of it is working with great partners like King Energy that have opened up access points to the market that didn’t previously exist,” he says, “I came up in this industry in the C&I world, and there were very few, if any, access points into commercial retail centers. Multi-tenant retail was almost an impossible nut to crack for many reasons. It seems like King has really unlocked the potential. That has been massive.”

This progress helps Rob fulfill Mynt’s vision of redistributing power and getting the energy to where it needs to be. By staying ahead of innovations, working with partners, and making an impact on the commercial market, they’re moving closer to helping the majority participate in clean energy. 

And, with commercial buildings like shopping malls as new territory for renewable energy, Mynt can move one step closer to their goal. “Just as EVs are a kind of conduit,” he says, “so are malls. They’re where the whole consumer economy is activated. What was once an inaccessible premium, starts to become mainstream. If we can turn these shopping centers into these hubs of innovation, even if it’s on the roof and you can’t see it, the redistribution of energy is happening.”


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