Top 6 solar projects and transactions of the week (Sept. 26 – Sept. 30)
Pacific Ethanol 5-MW System – largest net-meter project in PG&E territory, largest PACE transaction
Pacific Ethanol, a leading producer and marketer of low-carbon renewable fuels in the United States, is installing a 5 MW solar PV system designed and built by Borrego Solar Systems at its Madera, Calif., plant.
Through the displacement of more than 30 percent of the grid electricity currently used, the solar PV system is expected to reduce the Madera facility’s annual utility costs by more than $1 million as well as drive premium pricing on the ethanol produced due to improvements in its carbon-intensity score. The system also qualifies for the Energy Investment Tax Credit, further accentuating its attractive investment profile.
“Pacific Ethanol represents the new generation of fuel companies — low carbon fuel production powered by zero carbon energy,” said Chris Otness, Borrego Solar project developer. “This will be one of the largest single-site net metered projects in PG&E territory. Historically, these types of projects were limited to a single megawatt, but given the recent CPUC NEM 2.0 ruling, large energy users are now able to go above that threshold and offset a significantly larger portion of their overall usage. In addition, by financing this project through PACE, Pacific Ethanol is able to retain full ownership of the system from day one and capture the tax incentives afforded to solar system owners.”
Pacific Ethanol financed $10 million of the expected $11 million total investment through the CleanFund SolarPACE program, which provides for immediate positive cash flow and a financing term of 20 years.
CleanFund provides capital for projects using Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE), a financing framework adopted in 33 states and the District of Columbia that allows property owners to repay investments for building upgrades and new construction on their property tax bills. The Pacific Ethanol financing is the largest commercial PACE transaction in the U.S. to date. The improvement also represents the largest solar PV system (based on power generating capacity) to be funded through a PACE program.
RELATED: PACE financing updates: California to create uniform disclosures, Renovate America completes $320M securitization
SoCore Energy grabs equity interest in 22 community solar projects left by SunEdison
SoCore Energy, a leading developer and operator of commercial and distributed solar generation and a subsidiary of Edison International, agreed to acquire equity interests in 22 community solar garden development projects in Minnesota as part of the SunEdison bankruptcy proceedings, subject to certain conditions. The acquisition of these equity interests was approved today with an order from the US Bankruptcy Court in New York, for a total price of up to $79.8 million if all projects are completed.
Once constructed, these projects will provide up to 140 MW of solar generated power to meet the growing demand for renewable energy in the state. SoCore has existing solar installations in Minnesota focused on the needs of commercial customers and is developing several other solar projects to serve those customers, as well as electric cooperatives in the state.
These new projects acquired from SunEdison will form an integral part of SoCore’s expanding portfolio, with several projects commencing construction as early as the fourth quarter of 2016. SoCore is targeting completion of all project development and construction in 2017 using third-party tax equity and debt financing.
RELATED: Community Solar Legal Primer: From project structure to consumer protection
Canadian Solar takes on 100 MW AC in California via PPA
Canadian Solar Inc. announced a 15-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) for 100 MWac of solar power in California with MCE, California’s first operating Community Choice Aggregation program.
Power from the Recurrent Energy-developed Tranquillity 8 solar project, located in Fresno County, California, will supply MCE with 100 MWac of clean solar electricity, which is sufficient to power 48,300 homes. Construction of the project is expected to begin in 2017 and the project will begin providing power to MCE by late 2018.
“We’re proud to be working with Recurrent Energy to grow California’s solar industry, helping to power economic strength, job creation and tackle climate change by transitioning our communities to clean energy,” said Dawn Weisz, CEO of MCE.
“This contract award further expands our contracted pipeline in the U.S. and marks the third and largest PPA between Recurrent Energy and MCE,” said Dr. Shawn Qu, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Canadian Solar. “MCE’s continued leadership in procuring renewable energy is to be commended. We are pleased to have the opportunity to continue delivering reliable, cost-competitive solar power to MCE and their customers.”
RELATED: California regulators say they deny all legal challenges to their net metering rules
Generation cooperative installing its own solar array
Spartan Renewable Energy, a member-owner in the Wolverine Power Cooperative, will commence construction this fall on a 1.2-MW solar array in Cadillac, Mich., across from Wolverine’s headquarters facility. Wolverine will purchase 100% percent of the output from the project – the largest in Northern Michigan, for the benefit of its member-owners.
“SpartanSolar represents our ongoing commitment to Michigan renewable generation – built in Michigan, with Michigan labor, and Michigan panels and equipment,” said Eric Baker, Wolverine’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “Wolverine continues to add clean energy resources to power our members’ future. We will take our first step into solar with SpartanSolar and intend to add more solar power in the months ahead,” said Baker.
“Wolverine’s members committed to far exceed Michigan’s Renewable Portfolio Standard and, in the past few years, have become Michigan’s renewable energy leaders – we will nearly double the statutory requirement this year,” said Joseph Baumann, a Wolverine Vice President. “Much of this excess has been achieved through large-scale wind projects and solar power will now play a key role in further diversifying Wolverine’s environmentally friendly power supply mix,” concluded Baumann.
Wolverine is a generation and transmission cooperative serving the wholesale power supply and transmission needs of seven member-owners: Cherryland Electric Cooperative (Grawn); Great Lakes Energy (Boyne City); HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative (Portland); Midwest Energy Cooperative (Cassopolis); Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op (Onaway); Spartan Renewable Energy (Cadillac); and Wolverine Power Marketing Cooperative (Cadillac).
RELATED: Consumers Energy finishes second solar power plant at a Michigan university
Former-Army-base-turned-mixed-use development adds a solar array
MassDevelopment, the state of Massachusetts’ finance and development authority, is redeveloping Devens – a former U.S. Army base – into a mixed-use community. As part of that, WGL Energy Systems completed a 3.2-MW solar facility — a 4,400-acre community in north-central Massachusetts. The system consists of 10,488 rooftop solar panels installed on top of two buildings in Devens.
WGL Energy, with more than 205 MW DC of distributed solar power capacity operational or under contract in 19 states across the U.S., owns and operates the facility and will sell power to the Devens community under a 24-year power purchase agreement (PPA).
WGL Energy operates 13 solar projects throughout Massachusetts, with a combined capacity of over 24 MW DC. Sol Systems developed the project and managed the engineering, construction and procurement of equipment for the project’s two solar facilities.
The solar facilities are expected to produce more than 30,000 megawatt hours (MWh) per year of electricity, which avoids more than 21,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually, the equivalent to the amount emitted by more than 4,450 cars or the electric power used by more than 2,200 homes in one year.
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AmeriPride project in Texas coming together thanks to rebates
Minnesota-based AmeriPride, a national uniform rental and linen supply company, has chosen PCI Solar to install a solar energy system at its Odessa, Texas plant. This is AmeriPride’s second solar energy project, following a rooftop installation at its Worsester, Massachusetts site. The solar projects are part of AmeriPride’s broader environmental commitment, recognized by being one the first commercial laundries worldwide to earn the industry’s ‘Clean Green’ certification, signifying that its production facilities meet the highest international standard for water efficiency, energy conservation and adopting best practices for reusing, reclaiming and recycling resources.
The rooftop solar energy system, composed of Hanwha Q Cells 335-watt panels and Fronius inverters, will offset approximately 15 percent of AmeriPride’s energy use at its Odessa site. To overcome a somewhat complicated interconnection, PCI Solar worked closely with AmeriPride officials to ensure that the proposed design solution was compatible with AmeriPride’s ongoing business operations at the facility.
To help the project make economic sense, PCI Solar leveraged Oncor’s cash rebate for solar energy projects. The rebate program, which will continue in 2017 at rates to be determined, will provide $0.85/Watt towards the cost of the system. When combined with federal tax credits, the project offered a compelling ROI to AmeriPride.
Austin’s PCI Solar has helped Texas companies leverage the Oncor rebate to obtain significant savings on their energy bills. Customers ranging from manufacturers like Athena Manufacturing in Austin to Holt Cat dealerships in Cleburne and Fort Worth have chosen PCI to be their solar provider. These companies chose PCI to help them go solar due to compelling project economics and PCI’s local presence and experience building projects in Oncor territory. These companies have been able to pair the Oncor rebate with the 30% Federal investment tax credit and other tax benefits to reap significant return on their solar investment.
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