OYA Solar sells 28 MW of Minnesota community solar to NRG Energy


OYA Solar Inc. has closed on the sale of four Minnesota community solar projects totaling 28 MWdc with NRG Energy, Inc. The four projects are located in the counties of Benton, Blue Earth, Douglas, and Yellow Medicine on approximately 180 acres of land. Two of the projects have reached Mechanical Completion and are expected to be in placed in service in the near future; the other two projects are expected to be operational within 2018.

“We are proud to play a role in contributing to Xcel Energy achieving its goals under its Minnesota Community Solar Program and delivering utility bill savings to the businesses and residents of Minnesota,” states Manish Nayar, President of OYA Solar.

“We are also delighted to partner with NRG on this important transaction, and look forward to extending our success in further U.S. markets.”

Founded in 2009, OYA Solar Inc. is an experienced solar developer and investor. OYA Solar has developed a wide range of rooftop and ground mount solar projects including commercial, community solar, and utility scale across North America.

— Solar Builder magazine

NRG Energy’s renewable energy platform acquired by Global Infrastructure Partners

NRG Solar

Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP), a, you guessed it, global infrastructure investor, is acquiring NRG Energy Inc.’s integrated U.S. renewable energy platform via its third equity fund, Global Infrastructure Partners III. This move includes a controlling stake and 46% economic interest in NRG Yield, Inc. (NYLD), with a market capitalization of $3.2 billion, as well as NRG’s renewable energy operations and maintenance and development businesses. GIP is acquiring the business for $1.375 billion in cash, subject to certain adjustments. In addition, GIP has agreed to provide backstop support for NYLD’s agreed purchase of the Carlsbad Energy Center project.

NYLD has the largest project portfolio (by installed capacity) among U.S. power “yieldcos” and is the second largest by enterprise value and market capitalization. NYLD’s operating power plant capacity totals 5.1 GW and is diversified across wind, solar, and natural gas technologies. The company also owns thermal infrastructure assets with an aggregate steam and chilled water capacity of 1,319 net MWt and electric generation capacity of 123 net MW, servicing commercial businesses, universities, hospitals and government customers. A substantial portion of NYLD’s project portfolio benefits from long-term contracts with a weighted average remaining contract life of 16 years.

In addition to NRG’s interests in NYLD, GIP will acquire NRG’s renewable O&M and development businesses. NRG’s renewable O&M platform operates 2.4 GW of renewable power generation in 17 states. NRG’s renewable development platform includes 630 MW of identified “dropdown” assets, which are subject to a right of first offer from NYLD, and it has a total project pipeline of over 6.4 GW of renewable generation opportunities across the U.S. (as last disclosed publicly by NRG).

GIP has a demonstrated track record of investment and value creation in the renewable energy sector, and this investment fits squarely into GIP’s global renewables investment strategy. GIP has invested or committed approximately $9 billion of equity in the sector, including 8 GW of operating renewable assets and over 14 GW of renewable assets under construction or in development.

In addition to acquiring the business and assuming sponsorship of NYLD, GIP has made several significant commitments to facilitate the transaction, including arranging a $1.5 billion backstop credit facility to mitigate any change-of-control risk with NYLD’s existing corporate debt and committing up to $400 million to backstop NYLD’s acquisition of the 527 MW Carlsbad natural gas project in California from NRG. The commitment to the Carlsbad project, which remains subject to certain terms and conditions, ensures a timely acquisition in the event that NYLD is unable to raise efficient third-party capital to purchase the project.

The Transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to close in the second half of 2018.

— Solar Builder magazine

NRG company Reliant donates $110,000 to Texas animal shelter for solar install

Reliant is an NRG company that brings electricity, smart energy solutions and home services to business and residential customers across Texas. The company just announced the donation of $110,000 to Houston’s Friends For Life, the only no-kill, LEED-certified animal rescue shelter and adoption organization in Houston. The donation supports the installation of rooftop solar and solar on the nonprofit’s Mobile Adoption Vehicle. To celebrate, Reliant teamed up with the shelter to host an adoption event on March 25 at Friends For Life headquarters.

NRG Solar“Supporting local organizations that are important to our community is a big part of who we are as a company, and supporting the solar installation at Friends For Life is just one way we work to make a difference by doing what we do best – powering Texans with innovative energy,” said Elizabeth Killinger, president, Reliant and NRG Retail. “As the fastest-growing shelter in Houston, we’re pleased to help Friends For Life achieve their mission to save animals’ lives while also saving on their electricity usage.”

RELATED: Solar power for a prison leads to Make a Wish donation via Watts for Wishes 

The new solar installation includes 96 panels on the nonprofit’s Don Sanders Adoption Center and will offset the shelter’s electricity use by roughly 13 percent per year, which will allow the shelter to instead devote those resources to providing all food, supplies and medicine for four animals for an entire year. The system also includes a monitoring device that shows actual electricity production and consumption, offering insight into the shelter’s energy usage and helping them manage operations more efficiently.

As part of the $110,000 donation, Reliant also provided the funds for solar panels to outfit the nonprofit’s Mobile Adoption Vehicle (MAV), a state-of-the-art, 26-foot vehicle that brings dogs and cats to community events and high-traffic locations throughout the Houston area to encourage adoption and raise awareness. The technology will help the MAV’s battery stay charged, reduce use of diesel generators and power the vehicle’s lights, refrigerator, water pump and other equipment to help the animals stay comfortable and healthy.

New and existing electricity customers can support Friends For Life too when they sign up for a new Reliant plan that includes a $100 donation to the adoption and rescue center.

— Solar Builder magazine

NRG Energy discusses demand for community solar in Minnesota

NRG Energy, Inc has broken ground on its first five community solar projects in Minnesota and reached agreements to subscribe several national business customers to its solar farms in the state.

NRG Solar“Across Minnesota we are hearing the same strong message from residents and businesses alike: they want to be powered by affordable, renewable energy,” said Drew Warshaw, Vice President, Community Solar, NRG. “Community solar gives them that opportunity – a simple, cost-effective path for residents and businesses to go solar without having to put panels on their roofs.”

NRG’s commitment to developing community solar in Minnesota (the state where NRG began operations in 1989) is moving forward with 25-year Solar Subscription Agreements (SSAs) signed by more than 1,000 residents and several large businesses in the state including:

  • U.S. Bank – the 5th largest commercial bank in the United States, with six sites subscribed, including the iconic U.S. Bank Plaza in Minneapolis;
  • Land O’Lakes – a national member-owned agricultural cooperative based in the Minneapolis-St. Paul suburb of Arden Hills, with its corporate headquarters subscribing;
  • Macy’s – one of the nation’s premier retailers, with three of its retail sites subscribing;
  • Ecolab – the global leader in water, hygiene and energy technologies and services headquartered in St. Paul, with several corporate facilities subscribing.

“We seek out partnerships that positively impact the environment and participating in this unique community solar garden initiative is a great example of that,” said Reba Dominski, senior vice president, Corporate Social Responsibility at U.S. Bank. “We are proud to be a subscriber along with Land O’Lakes, Macy’s, Ecolab and others, and congratulate NRG for its leadership and investment in this important work. We are excited to see the positive impact the gardens will have on our communities.”

NRG’s renewables business has broken ground on five projects in Minnesota that will provide clean energy:

  • Forest Lake Project in Washington County – 6.7 MW dc (5 MW ac);
  • Farmington Project in Dakota County – 6.1 MW dc (5 MW ac);
  • Pine Island Project in Goodhue County – 3.5 MW dc (2.9 MW ac);
  • Highway 14 Project in Olmstead County – 6.7 MW dc (5 MW ac);
  • Dodge Project in Dodge County – 6.1 MW dc (5 MW ac).

All of the projects are slated for completion by early 2017. The five solar farms will serve both businesses and residential customers.

How it works

Business and residential customers in Minnesota subscribe to an NRG community solar farm by signing a 25-year SSA. Electricity generated at the solar farm goes to the local utility’s grid. Customers then receive a bill credit from their utility — in this case, Xcel Energy, Inc. — for their subscribed share of the electricity produced by the community solar farm.

“We’d like to thank Xcel Energy, Governor Dayton and the State Legislature for supporting this innovative community solar program,” added NRG’s Drew Warshaw. “Their forward-thinking leadership – along with that of our flagship customers in four Minnesota counties – is paving the way for other states to follow suit.”

Further reading: Community Solar Legal Primer: From project structure to consumer protection 

— Solar Builder magazine

NRG Energy completes huge Las Vegas strip install with Ten K Solar system

The high-energy vibe of Las Vegas continues to provide a shining example of the power of renewable energy. MGM Resorts International and NRG’s business solutions and renewables teams have completed phases I and II on what has become the world’s second-largest rooftop solar photovoltaic array at the Mandalay Bay Resort Convention Center.

Combined, the two-phased project is predicted to deliver 8.3 MW DC (5 MW AC). Phase I was completed in October 2014; Phase II in June 2016. At full production, the rooftop installation is expected to produce 25 percent of Mandalay Bay’s power demand, taking full advantage of the sunny, desert climate of Las Vegas.

This, in turn, will also lower demand on the southern Nevada electricity grid at the hottest time of the day. The project diminishes the need to import energy from outside the local energy system and reduces energy costs for the entire Las Vegas system. The two-phased approach allowed the NRG team to deliver a solution both quickly and in a manner that could accommodate the ever-evolving level of solar technology.

RELATED: Ten K Solar takes a totally new approach to PV system architecture #SPI 

Specifically, phase II incorporates Ten K Solar’s “tenK” REFLECT system, a technology designed to help increase efficiency and production of solar arrays. The end result is a second solar installation that delivers an additional 1.9 MW of capacity in an innovative, efficient manner through:

• A high energy-density design – with 20 percent more kWh per area, an important factor considering the limited roof space available;
• More productivity from each solar panel;
• Greater temperature tolerance – especially important given the Las Vegas location;
• A shade tolerant design – with parallel cell and module connections allowing a greater area of the rooftop to be filled with panels;
• Enhanced safety – 60V DC, Class A fire rating;
• Long-term durability – redundant design with lowest available degradation: 0.2%/year.

MGM Resorts made the strategic decision to utilize solar at the Mandalay Bay Resort Conference and Convention center because of its large, sun-oriented rooftop space. Mandalay Bay buys the energy created by the array through a power purchase agreement.

The company has made it a point of emphasis to reduce its natural resource consumption through various sustainability initiatives. Over the past five years, the company has reduced its energy intensity by more than 12 percent and has saved more than 2.5 billion gallons of water.

— Solar Builder magazine