Arcadia Power teams with New Columbia Solar to provide community solar option in D.C.

washington DC solar

Arcadia Power and New Columbia Solar, an energy provider to residents and businesses throughout the Washington, D.C., formed a partnership to make community solar accessible for all D.C. residents. The initial project will be the first privately-funded community solar project in D.C. and will feature a completely free, user-friendly sign-up process never before available in the District of Columbia.

With community solar, anyone can benefit from solar power savings even if they cannot install solar panels on their own property. However, signing up for a community solar project has traditionally required users pay two different monthly bills, fill out extensive paperwork, agree to binding contracts with cancellation fees, and undergo a credit check.

“The goal of community solar has always been to make solar savings accessible to all, but the sign-up process for homes and apartments has been anything but easy,” said Kiran Bhatraju, CEO of Arcadia Power. “We’re thrilled to be partnering with New Columbia Solar to bring hassle-free community solar to District residents.”

New Columbia Solar’s clean energy systems are being built and operated on buildings all across the city, enabling District residents to power their lives entirely through locally based solar energy. This combined with Arcadia Power’s billing platform, makes signing-up for locally based solar power easier than ever, and with no upfront costs whatsoever, for D.C. residents. Anyone in D.C. can connect their utility account to Arcadia Power’s online energy platform to sign-up for a community solar project. Members will start saving about 10 percent on their monthly power bills and can track their solar savings on their online dashboard.

RMI report shows path for a 30-GW community solar market by 2020

The initial community solar project will be hosted on the roof of a local community church, Celestial Church of Christ. The building’s roof, which has been suffering from extensive leaks, will be replaced and repaired as part of the project. This will give the church a brand-new roof, with a 25-year warranty, while hosting a local solar energy system capable of powering the lives of District residents and parishioners.

“This partnership kicks off our ability to not only reinvest into our city but to provide clean, local energy to District residences through community solar,” said Mike Healy, CEO of New Columbia Solar. “We are excited to continue our mission to make it as easy as humanly possible for D.C. residents and businesses to benefit from solar energy. As more community members express interest in solar, we will develop new projects all over the city to revitalize outdated energy systems, invest in capital improvements and create jobs in our community, all by offering locally based solar energy at a great price.”

As more D.C. homeowners and renter’s sign-up for Arcadia Power, more projects are in place to be developed. Sign ups are located here.

— Solar Builder magazine

Strata Solar is looking to C&I, community solar as part of growth strategy

strata solar

N.C.-based Strata Solar says it has plans to strategically acquire commercial and industrial (C&I) and community solar assets to add to its existing portfolio of utility-scale projects. The move comes as the company, which already owns over 800 MW in assets, aims to expand its long-term ownership portfolio to now include rooftop and community solar projects across the U.S.

With the addition of Chief Structured Finance Officer Jimmy Chuang from GCL and formerly SolarCity, Strata is now actively looking to acquire both operational and development assets while also supporting upcoming municipal and commercial sustainability efforts across the country.

“In just two years, Strata Solar Commercial has built over 60 MW across 14 states, developing a strong presence in the C&I and Community Solar markets as an EPC provider. We are ready to further leverage our experience owning and operating utility-scale projects to become long-term asset owners in the C&I space,” said Chuang. “This will allow us to expand our offering to a broader customer base in line with our corporate goals and long-term strategy.”

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Strata is looking to support the growth of its C&I business across the U.S. by working with corporate sustainability managers and local governments to achieve their renewable objectives.

“Strata is giving businesses and industrial customers direct access to cheaper, clean energy while allowing them to hedge against unpredictable energy costs,” said Henry Dziuba, Strata’s Chief Revenue Officer. “As a market leader in the renewable energy space, with over a decade of experience and over 1.3 GW in operating solar assets, Strata offers corporate clients the security and bankability they are looking for in a long-term investment partner.”

— Solar Builder magazine

IHS Markit names Clean Energy Collective a ‘Pioneer’ for its community solar platform

Clean Energy collective

IHS Markit named Clean Energy Collective (CEC), one of the leading community solar developers, as an Energy Innovation Pioneer for its role developing strategies and technologies that are transforming the electricity energy future. CEC was selected from a field of more than 500 companies making noteworthy innovations throughout the energy spectrum. IHS Markit selected CEC for its unique Community Solar Platform technology and service solutions enabling cost-effective community solar program design, integration, and management. CEC is being recognized at the IHS Markit CERAWeek executive conference in Houston this week.

CEC’s community solar model, and the proprietary Community Solar Platform, provides a path to solar for the 75% of U.S. households and businesses where on-site/rooftop solar is either not possible or not practical. It opens the market for locally generated clean power to any participating utility customer, a market 7x the size of rooftop solar, setting the stage for exponential growth in consumer and commercial access to affordable renewable energy.

RMI report shows path for a 30-GW community solar market by 2020

CEC has built or has under development approximately 175 community solar projects with 33 utility partners across 15 states, serving thousands of customers, and representing more than 310 MW of distributed renewable capacity.

“Technological innovation is the indispensable constant across the energy spectrum. These creative and dedicated problem-solvers represent a driving force that is shaping the new energy future,” Daniel Yergin, IHS Markit vice chairman and CERAWeek conference chair, said of Energy Innovation Pioneer honorees.

The Energy Innovation Pioneers program is held annually in conjunction with IHS CERAWeek, the premier international gathering of energy industry leaders, experts, government officials, financial communities, technology innovators and policy makers. Criteria for selecting Energy Innovation Pioneers includes the company’s creativity, business plan feasibility, scalability of technology, and the leadership team.

— Solar Builder magazine

Green Street Power Partners buys up portfolio of community solar projects in New York via SunPower

SunPower Helix module mounting

Green Street Power Partners LLC (GSPP) has purchased a portfolio of community solar projects all in Con Edison’s service zone, from SunPower. A 918-kilowatt rooftop project in Maspeth, Queens, will be the first completed featuring SunPower Helix technology. The project was originated by SunPower dealer Accord Power, who is also providing development and engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) services. Construction is set to begin April 1 and expected to be complete by late spring 2018. GSPP will own the system, highlighting the company’s increased focus on project acquisition.

“This project, along with the additional projects we are currently acquiring, will have a profound impact on our company while helping us achieve our goals of being a leader in community solar, and commercial and industrial solar markets,” said Scott Kerner, Co-Founder and CEO. “We are also thrilled about the next chapter in our collaboration with SunPower and its network of dealers, and are hopeful that these projects will be the first of many.”

The SunPower Helix advanced technology which will be used for this 918-kilowatt rooftop solar system is expected to offset approximately 20,496 metric tons of carbon dioxide from the five boroughs over the lifetime of the system, the equivalent of preserving 167 acres of forest. The project will provide power to more than 150 homes in New York City.

“We are thrilled that Green Street Power Partners is taking a leadership position in helping to encourage development of reliable solar energy projects like this one featuring SunPower’s leading-edge solar technology,” said Nam Nguyen, SunPower executive vice president, commercial. “We look forward to building on this shared success in the future, bringing value to even more customers.”

— Solar Builder magazine

RMI report shows path for a 30-GW community solar market by 2020

sunlink iowa community solar 2

Community solar project in Iowa, courtesy of SunLink.

While recent CSS market growth has exceeded that of both behind-the-meter solar like rooftop photovoltaic systems and that of utility-scale solar between 2015 and 2017, barriers surrounding cost, access and demand continue to drag on the CSS sector’s overall growth. The Progress and Potential for Community-Scale Solar report offers new approaches to help drive additional development and buyer adoption of this clean, reliable, locally sourced resource.

The report relays data and insights from RMI’s work supporting co-op solar procurement in Colorado, New Mexico and Texas, and focuses particularly on the CSS opportunity for rural electric cooperatives. It follows RMI’s research highlighting levers to reduce CSS costs by 40 percent and enable a 30-GW community scale-solar market—the equivalent of about 50 average-sized coal plants—by 2020.

How do we get there?

RMI believes the CSS segment sits in an economic sweet spot in the market and represents an economic opportunity of as much as $30 billion. Community-scale systems are large enough to access low costs through economies of scale and small enough to efficiently interconnect into distribution systems. Via these solar arrays — between 0.5 megawatt (MW) and 5 MW per installation, interconnected to distribution networks and sited directly within the neighborhoods they serve —cooperatives can leverage local connections to facilitate the development process, further reducing costs.

“In demonstrating the ability to already today deliver clean energy at or below 5 cents per kilowatt-hour on the distribution grid, CSS can be the ‘killer app’ for cooperatives, supplying a cost-competitive, locally sourced, clean energy resource that also provides resilience benefits to their members,” Thomas Koch Blank, a principal at RMI, said. “Seizing on the additional cost-reduction pathways we identify will help ensure buyers access to the best CSS offerings and their range of benefits.”

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RMI in December announced the start of construction on a new 3 MW solar project in New Mexico that will sell its output below 4.5 cents per kilowatt-hour, a price RMI believes is the lowest reported contract for distributed photovoltaic solar energy in the U.S. RMI provided project analysis and supported the competitive procurement process for Otero County Electric Cooperative, Inc.

RMI is working with communities, utilities, and solar developers to build a more transparent, standardized approach to help expand market access for community-scale solar installations. The organization also is continually expanding its network to both raise awareness of the benefits of this technology, and simplify the process to help stakeholders determine how CSS can help lower electricity costs and bring more clean energy onto the grid.

— Solar Builder magazine