Delaware River Solar breaks ground on community solar project in Otsego County, New York

delaware river solar

The New York State Energy and Research Development Authority (NYSERDA) and Delaware River Solar announced the groundbreaking of a 2.7-megawatt community solar project in Otsego County.

Located on Pool Brook Road, the solar array is being constructed by Delaware River Solar. Once completed, it is expected to provide enough clean energy to power the equivalent of about 400 average-sized homes per year.

“We are excited to partner with Solstice in Otsego County for community outreach”, said Cindy Menges, Delaware River Solar Community Relations Director. “Residents have the ability to save with no-risk, no cost subscriptions. It’s a win-win for all.”

RELATED: Expand the growth of community solar with factory-direct systems

The project is being supported by NYSERDA through NY-Sun, Governor Cuomo’s $1 billion initiative to advance the scale-up of solar and move the state closer to having a sustainable, self-sufficient solar industry. Delaware River Solar also received two separate financings from NY Green Bank over the past year. The first, a bridge loan of $7 million, will finance the interconnection expenses of its community solar projects, alleviating one of the significant cost barriers for developers in the community solar sector. In addition, NY Green Bank committed $55 million to participate in a term loan to finance the capital costs of Delaware River Solar’s community solar projects, which are expected to deploy up to 70 megawatts of solar. NY Green Bank’s participation creates an easier pathway forward for developers and enables greater deployment of community solar along with other distributed generation assets throughout the state.

Alfred Griffin, President, NY Green Bank said, “New York State’s community solar market has made significant strides in 2018 and NY Green Bank is proud to play an integral role in that progress by providing financing to fund interconnection expenses and capital costs. We look forward to seeing continued growth in the New York State community solar market.”

Since 2011, solar in New York State has increased more than 1,000 percent and leveraged nearly $2.8 billion in private investments. During the months of July and August 2018, New York completed 80 megawatts of solar projects – the highest amount completed in two months in the state’s history. New York is ranked third nationally for residential and non-residential solar installed through June 30, 2018 and there are nearly 12,000 people engaged in solar jobs across the state.

— Solar Builder magazine

ForeFront Power gets SDG&E approval for community solar project as part of EcoShare

Forefront power

ForeFront Power says its community solar project in San Diego County is now the first to be approved for San Diego Gas and Electric’s (SDG&E) EcoShare program. The program allows SDG&E customers, including those who rent or cannot install on-site solar, the option of purchasing up to 100 percent renewable energy from an off-site location.

Approximately half of U.S. households and businesses are unable to install rooftop solar due to space, lack of sun exposure or ownership limitations, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). SDG&E’s EcoShare program gives residential and business customers – including those who rent – an easy way to participate in solar without installing or maintaining solar panels.

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“We are thrilled to be pioneers of this important community solar program for SDG&E customers,” said Vice President of Sales, Rachel McLaughlin. “For customers who are unable to benefit from on-site solar energy, we now have a solution to extend the benefits of renewable energy to them.”

ForeFront Power is developing the inaugural EcoShare program community solar project in Campo, California. Participating customers will sign a contract directly with ForeFront Power to subscribe to a portion of the energy produced from the 2.4-megawatt solar project. In turn, customers will receive a program credit from SDG&E on their monthly energy statement based on the kilowatt-hour output of their subscription with the developer.

Both residential and business customers may now express their interest in the project to ForeFront Power in order to start their subscription upon project completion in spring 2020.

— Solar Builder magazine

Minnesota approves 1.5 center adder for residential community solar subscribers — is it enough?

Geronimo Energy

Geronimo Energy celebrating another community solar install in Minnesota.

Minnesota has cemented its status as the community solar state, but a design flaw in its program design has left many in the community as non-subscribers — namely, homeowners. Last week the Minnesota Public Utility took action to try and broaden the base, voting unanimously to approve an incentive to residential community solar garden customers of 1.5 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for 2019 and 2020.

Currently, residents make up about 81 percent of the 9,405 solar garden subscriptions but comprise only 10 percent of the gardens’ power subscription capacity. The commercial to residential ratio in community solar capacity distribution is around 9:1 right now, and this new incentive will certain make a dent, but solar advocates are questioning how much, having advocated for a 2.5 cent kicker.

RELATED: Expand the growth of community solar with factory-direct systems

“My fear is that it’s not going to be enough to move the needle in driving the market toward more residential,” Ross Abbey, of solar garden developer U.S. Solar, said after the vote. “It’s disappointing.”

Often solar advocates have to settle for “beggars can’t be choosers” outcomes because of things like the Minnesota Tribune reporting the state attorney general’s office, which represents ratepayers at the PUC, had opposed a residential incentive. Seen in that light, this incentive is seen as a step forward. David Amster-Olszewski, SunShare founder and CEO, shares his perspective on it:

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“This decision by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission is a huge win for Minnesota residents that want to contribute to the growth of solar energy without having to install rooftop panels,” he said. “The previously thriving residential community solar market in Minnesota was dealt a strong setback by the value of solar (VOS) tariff when it was first introduced several years ago because the rate was lower than the old rates and only sufficient for the low cost of service of commercial customers.

“As the cost of obtaining and serving thousands of residential subscribers is naturally higher, the market was not able to support residential participation, which is the backbone of the community solar movement. Now that the Minnesota PUC has responded positively to the industry’s recommendation to implement a higher rate for serving residential customers, companies can afford to sell to residential customers again. I expect this decision to have a very significant and rapid impact on SunShare’s ability to develop new community solar projects in Minnesota, creating local, good-paying green jobs and enabling more Minnesotans to choose a clean source of power.”

SunShare was instrumental in the PUC’s decision – its comment paper filed May 11, 2018 (for PUC Docket No. E-002/M-13-867) introduced significant data around how imperative the adder would be to the growth of the industry in MN for residential subscribers.

— Solar Builder magazine

Two community solar gardens coming online in Colorado via Black Hills Energy, Greenskies

Black Hills Energy community solar

Black Hills Energy, in partnership with Greenskies Renewable Energy, a Clean Focus company, delivers new renewable energy sources to customers in Southern Colorado with the completion of two fully-subscribed community solar gardens – a 500-kilowatt garden in Rocky Ford, Colorado, and a 2-megawatt facility in Ordway, Colo.

Black Hills Energy has partnered with Greenskies Renewable Energy, a Clean Focus company, to maintain and operate these gardens, which will allow subscribers to reap the benefits of clean, sustainable energy. Clean Focus Yield Limited will own the arrays as part of its large portfolio of commercial, industrial, small utility and community solar projects.

“We are excited to deliver a solution to the growing interest in solar energy from both customers and community leaders and expand our renewable portfolio at the same time with the construction of these new community solar gardens,” said Vance Crocker, Black Hills Energy’s vice president of Colorado’s electric utility operations. “We are fortunate to live in a state where sunshine is abundant, and we can convert sunny days into renewable energy for our customers.”

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“The Rocky Ford and Crowley County community solar projects provide clean energy to local housing authorities, schools, community colleges and city governments and enable customers to benefit from solar without any equipment on their roofs or property,” said Stanley Chin, President and CEO of Greenskies and Clean Focus Group. “We are pleased to partner with Black Hills Energy and look forward to a long relationship with subscribers over the lifetime of these projects.”

Early next year, construction of the new 60 MW Busch Ranch II wind farm will begin in Huerfano and Las Animas Counties. With this addition, Black Hills will meet Colorado’s Renewable Energy Standard, requiring 30 percent renewable energy resources by 2020.

In keeping with Black Hills’ commitment to bring more renewable energy to Southern Colorado, the company will continue to invest in solar power in the coming years. Subscriptions are now available at two community solar gardens under construction in Pueblo and Fremont Counties and the utility plans for an additional 2.5 MW of community solar garden power each year over the next four years, including space reserved exclusively for low-income customers.

Black Hills will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony on October 15 in Rocky Ford to celebrate the launch of the new community solar gardens.

— Solar Builder magazine

CleanChoice Energy enrolling subscribers for 4 MW of new community solar in Hennepin County, Minn.

CleanChoice Energy

CleanChoice Energy, a renewable energy company that provides wind and solar energy products to customers across the country, has opened subscriber enrollment for the Corcoran Community Solar Farm in Minnesota. At more than 600 open subscriber allocations, it is one of the largest single residential Community Solar enrollments ever to open in Minnesota, capital of the community solar movement.

Enrollment for the new farm is open to residents of Hennepin, Ramsey, Anoka, Dakota, Scott, Carver, and Wright Counties. Subscribers can expect to save up to 5% on their utility bills by supporting local solar power.

“Minnesota continues to stand apart as a national Community Solar leader. Opening the Corcoran Solar Farm means that hundreds of more Minnesotans can support solar energy development while saving money on their utility bills,” said Tom Matzzie, CEO of CleanChoice Energy. “Community Solar allows Minnesotans to support to clean energy without a big upfront investment or a home construction project—instead they can sign up online in just a few minutes and save money on their utility bills.”

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Corcoran Community Solar Farm subscribers will receive credit on their electric bill for the power generated by the solar panels at the site. CleanChoice’s platform allows customers to sign-up in less than five minutes, and manages ongoing customer engagement–all fully digital and completely online. CleanChoice Energy Community Solar subscribers pay no upfront costs, have no maintenance, and do not need to own their roof—allowing anyone to support local solar even if they rent or do not have a roof suitable for solar panels.

— Solar Builder magazine