Borrego Solar Systems saw big-time results from its energy storage, O&M push in 2016

Borrego solar

Established in 1980, Borrego Solar Systems Inc. says it experienced its best year ever in 2016 — hitting a 76 percent increase in total MW installed from 2015. The company achieved a 100 percent increase in profits, representing its eighth consecutive year of profitable growth.

Borrego Solar was once again among the top commercial developers nationally and held the largest market share in two of its key geographic markets, Massachusetts and New York, according to GTM Research’s Leaderboard.
In Massachusetts, the company installed more than 90 MW in 2016, a 144 percent increase from 2015, bringing its total installed capacity to 213 MW. In New York, the company installed 28 MW, a slight uptick from 2015, bringing its total capacity to 55 MW—an amount achieved just two years after fully entering the market. In California, Borrego Solar installed 45 percent more MW than in 2015, bringing its total capacity in the state to more than 86 MW.

In 2017, the company will continue to focus on reducing the cost of solar for its customers. While solar is already delivering meaningful savings compared to conventional power in all of Borrego Solar’s major markets, the goal is to enable more market segments and geographies to benefit from low-cost renewable energy.

RELATED: Solect Energy has record-breaking solar installation year in 2016 

Energy Storage and O&M

In 2016 Borrego Solar expanded beyond solar with the launch of its energy storage division. Led by General Manager Dan Berwick and Director of Technology and Operations John duPont, the energy storage division is offering energy storage solutions to both solar and non-solar customers. The company aims to leverage storage in order to enable higher penetration of renewable energy on the grid.

“Our mission is to accelerate the adoption of renewable energy, and in 2016 we decided to focus our attention on addressing some of the limitations of solar that energy storage can help solve,” said Dan Berwick. “Energy storage is a natural fit for us because of our existing project development, engineering, and operational capabilities, and because our existing customers and the industries we serve are well-positioned to benefit from energy storage. With recent cost reductions and improvements in performance, we decided that 2016 was the right time to invest in energy storage, and we’re already ahead of our plan.”

Borrego Solar’s O&M division saw substantial growth in 2016, with a nearly 80 percent annual increase in MW under management. The company now manages nearly 500 MW of projects across 15 states: MA, NH, VT, RI, CT, NY, PA, NJ, MD, NC, TN, IN, OR, CA, AZ.

“We knew we had a market-leading offering when we first launched this division in 2015 because our warranty customers were reaching out to us for long-term solar O&M support on projects built by competitors,” said Phillip Stephenson, vice president of O&M. “As we work to grow and diversify our portfolio we are continually upgrading our capabilities to make sure our customers continue to receive the best value in the market.”

— Solar Builder magazine

Ithaca College goes solar with remote-net-metered array

Financier Greenwood Energy and installer Borrego Solar Systems completed a 2.9-MW remote-net-metered solar array for Ithaca College. Borrego Solar co-developed, designed and built the array while Greenwood Energy will own and operate it. Located approximately 40 miles from campus on 15 acres of land in the Ontario County Town of Seneca, the solar array is one of the largest for a higher education institution in New York State.

Ithaca College solar array PPA

The solar farm will generate an estimated 3.5 million kWh of electricity in its first year, which will provide roughly 10 percent of the campus’ electricity needs. This amount is equal to powering the Gannett Center, Dillingham Center and Williams Hall academic buildings, along with the Emerson residence Hall.

“I offer my thanks to our public and private partners for helping us make this project a reality,” said Ithaca College President Tom Rochon.

RELATED: New York utilities, SolarCity propose landmark partnership 


Ithaca College solar project

The project is financed through a Power Purchase Agreement, which covered all upfront costs and allows the college to purchase the solar energy produced from the owner, Greenwood Energy, at a set price over the 25-year term of the agreement through remote net energy metering (RNEM). Ithaca’s project is the recipient of a $1.6 million New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) grant.

“Greenwood Energy is proud of making this private-public partnership a reality. An exciting outcome thanks to a concerted effort of multiple parties from policy all the way to project construction. We can only hope for more,” said Camilo Patrignani, Greenwood Energy CEO.

The NY-SUN initiative is making it possible for all New Yorkers to invest in solar energy by providing financial incentives and solar-friendly utility programs. One key program utilized for Ithaca College’s installation is RNEM, which allows for entities to install solar at an off-site location and receive credits for the energy fed onto the grid. Thanks to RNEM, the installation will save Ithaca College an estimated $10,000 to $50,000 annually, depending on the future price of electricity.


— Solar Builder magazine

Borrego Solar launches new division to focus on energy storage solutions

Borrego Solar Systems Inc., a large-scale solar development, design, financing, construction and O&M company, is now hopping into energy storage solutions with the launch of a new division. This marks the company’s first ever formal expansion into energy services beyond solar photovoltaics. The company will be offering both standalone energy storage solutions and storage integrated with solar PV.

Borrego solar“We’re excited to launch this new chapter, as a way to further our mission of accelerating the adoption of renewable energy,” said Borrego Solar CEO Mike Hall. “Energy storage – and in particular the long-duration energy storage on which we’ll be focusing our efforts – is an important piece of what we need to effectively integrate more and more renewable energy into our electricity system, and it’s something that our customers, electricity regulators and policymakers are asking for.”

The energy storage division will be based in Massachusetts, and will serve customers nationally. Borrego Solar’s executive vice president of strategy and business development, Dan Berwick, will lead the new division.

“We’re realizing that all across our customer base—from cities, school districts and public agencies to businesses, manufacturers and electric utilities—it is more frequently making economic sense to evaluate energy storage in conjunction with solar,” said Berwick. “We knew that this technology shift was around the corner given the changes happening to the grid as we add more wind and solar power to it. As climate change becomes an increasingly present danger, and the need to decarbonize our electricity system more immediate, the distributed energy marketplace will demand greater amounts of flexible energy storage. We’re now prepared to meet that need.”

Over the coming year, Borrego Solar’s energy storage division will focus on supporting utilities across the United States in the development and installation of megawatt-scale energy storage systems for integration with renewables and peak-load management. The team will also offer energy storage solutions to its existing solar PV portfolio, totaling more than 400 MW, and to new solar customers, who are primarily large-scale electricity users in its core state markets of California, New York, and Massachusetts.

Borrego has more than 260 MW of installations in operation and more than 100 MW currently under construction. Borrego Solar is a market leader nationally in addition to having the largest market share in Massachusetts and New York.

— Solar Builder magazine

Top 6 solar projects and transactions of the week (Sept. 26 – Sept. 30)

PG&EPacific 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

dickinson minnesota solar project

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 


Wolverine Power solar projectGeneration 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 


WGL Energy solar MassachusettsFormer-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.

RELATED: Load Warriors: Experts discuss rooftop ballast installation best practices 


PCI SolarAmeriPride 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.

— Solar Builder magazine

Brownfield in Massachusetts receives 6-MW system, developed by Syncarpha Capital


Massachusetts brownfield solar array

Borrego Solar installation at 311 Emery Street in Palmer, MA. (Photo By: Greg M. Cooper / Borrego Solar)

Syncarpha Capital LLC, Borrego Solar Systems Inc., and Renewable Energy Massachusetts LLC (REM) completed a 6-MW solar array located on the former Palmer Metropolitan Airfield in Palmer, Mass.

The Palmer Airfield project is unique in that it is both the first and, at 6 MW, the largest Department of Energy Resources (DOER) qualified brownfield project under the Massachusetts SREC II solar energy incentive program. The DOER’s predecessor program, SREC I, was successful in encouraging solar development in Massachusetts through 2013, however much of it occurred on greenfields. The DOER, with key stakeholders’ input, pointed out that the program should incentivize more development of solar on landfills and brownfields. Thus the SREC II program was designed to promote the positive re-use of sites cleaned up under Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection supervision.

The Palmer Airfield project, which was cleaned up after 75 years of airfield operations dating back to the 1920s, is a perfect example of what SREC II was designed to achieve as far as siting large-scale solar at appropriate locations around the Commonwealth.

RELATED: Mounting Challenges: Landfills, Brownfields, Water-Saturated Sites 

There are multiple entities directly benefitting from this project. The Town of Palmer, a designated Green Community, will be receiving real and personal property tax revenue of approximately $2 million over the 20 year project term. Three public entities – the Town of Leicester, the Town of Spencer, and Worcester State University, will together purchase all of the net metering credits from the energy generated by the project, which will result in millions of dollars in energy savings for these entities over the 20 year terms of the energy agreements. Finally, the land owner, JenJill LLC of Wilbraham, Mass., which purchased the site and paid for its cleanup, will benefit from the long-term ground lease.

Massachusetts brownfield solar array

Borrego Solar installation at 311 Emery Street in Palmer, MA. (Photo By: Greg M. Cooper / Borrego Solar)

Syncarpha Capital, a rapidly growing developer, owner, operator and financier of utility-scale solar facilities, will finance, own, and operate the Palmer Airfield facility.

“The Palmer Airfield Solar Project provides an excellent example of the multiple benefits created by the fostering of renewable energy by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and its implementation,” said Cliff Chapman, managing partner at Syncarpha Capital. “Not only will multiple public sector entities benefit financially and directly from this project, but, in addition, underutilized remediated brownfield land will now be used to provide positive environmental impact. Syncarpha and our development team partners are proud to a part of this endeavor.”

Borrego Solar—a developer, designer, installer and O&M provider of grid-tied solar energy systems—built the array and negotiated and finalized off-taker agreements with the Town of Leicester and the Town of Spencer.


Renewable Energy Massachusetts LLC (REM) is a Massachusetts-based solar energy development company founded in 2009 that has developed several large-scale operating solar projects in Massachusetts.