Unico Solar Investors LLC announced 19 solar + storage commercial and industrial projects across Colorado’s Front Range, totaling 14.75 MW of capacity. A wholly-owned subsidiary of Unico Investment Group LLC, Unico Solar develops, owns and operates solar energy systems for its own real estate portfolio as well as for third-party clients. It was selected along with Namasté Solar by Xcel Energy to build six new community solar gardens in Colorado totaling 12 MW. Earlier this year, Unico Solar secured site lease agreements with the City of Boulder to develop solar energy projects on city facilities totaling 2.75 MW.
Both portfolios will be capitalized by a $100 million equity fund Unico Solar established earlier this year.
Unico Solar will lease a total of 2.6 million square feet–or 60 acres–between six sites across the Front Range for the community solar gardens with Xcel Energy. Each site is expected to generate 3,914,190 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year, totaling 449,825,143 kWh over 20 years, which is capable of powering more than 2,000 average Colorado households. Construction, which will be led by Namasté Solar, a Colorado-based employee-owned cooperative with a proven track record of designing and constructing projects of this size, is expected to begin in late 2019.
Unico Solar has also secured site leases for more than 370,000 square feet of rooftop and ground area across 13 sites with the City of Boulder, supporting the city’s goal to operate on 100% renewable energy by 2030. The entire portfolio is expected to generate 80,663,889 kWh and $1.3 million in cumulative savings to the city over 20 years and requires no up-front capital or ongoing maintenance costs from the city.
“As a real estate investor with a long history of building communities and demonstrating leadership in sustainability, Unico Solar is keenly aware of the impact commercial and industrial buildings have on climate change, and we see an opportunity in Colorado to expedite our transition to a clean energy future,” said Adam Knoff, associate director and co-founder of Unico Solar. “Together with Xcel Energy and the City of Boulder, we are taking steps toward decarbonizing the built environment while sharing the financial benefits of the state’s growing solar economy.”
The Xcel Energy community solar project will operate on a subscription-based model, with a percentage of the energy generated reserved exclusively for residential customers. All remaining capacity will be sold to other commercial, industrial and residential customers. Both projects work toward Colorado’s overall goal to achieve 100% renewal electricity by 2040, set forth by Governor Jared Polis’s HB-1003, called the Community Solar Gardens Modernization Act, making it easier for the state’s residents to access clean energy.
“We are excited to be developing these projects with Unico, as we have a history of successfully partnering together here in Colorado,” said Eliot Abel, Director of Commercial Project Development at Namasté Solar. “These projects further demonstrate our commitment to helping Colorado residents and businesses save money with clean solar energy, while also making a positive impact on the local community and the environment.”
These projects are a continuation of Unico Solar’s ongoing effort to advance and scale the use of clean energy in the commercial and industrial real estate verticals. Previous efforts in Colorado include 7 projects totaling 1.6 MW of rooftop solar across the Front Range.
— Solar Builder magazine