They say good things come in threes. The SolUnesco team has worked hard all summer and has achieved a hattrick of exciting news to report.
SolUnesco Partners with Apex Clean Energy
On Sept 4, 2018, SolUnesco inked an agreement with Apex Clean Energy that resulted in the sale of 390 MW of SolUnesco’s pipeline. This agreement affects four projects: Carvers Creek, Moody Creek, Red Brick, and Rivanna, each of which ranges from 11 to 150 MWac. SolUnesco will continue to develop these projects in partnership with Apex.
We are excited to partner with another Virginia firm devoted to renewable energy. Apex is a leader in the wind energy industry and is in the process of developing a strong solar portfolio. In turn, SolUnesco will bring our complementary Virginia solar energy expertise to assist Apex in broadening their portfolio. “This partnership provides key capabilities and resources to best position these four projects,” said SolUnesco’s CEO, Francis Hodsoll. “Jon and I believe the Apex relationship will advance the growth of SolUnesco’s capabilities and market position.”
Greensville Board of Supervisors Approves the Meherrin Solar Project
On October 1, 2018, the Greensville Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to approve the 60 MWac Meherrin Solar project. SolUnesco and Brookfield Renewable have been working tirelessly with Greensville County for nearly three years to get zoning approval. These efforts have included: five site redesigns; dozens of public, county and staff meetings; and the employment of an economist to analyze and report on the local economic and fiscal benefits.
SolUnesco and Brookfield Renewable are committed to being a good neighborーa neighbor who is quiet, non-intrusive, and concerned with maintaining the property and bringing benefits to the local community. (In December 2016, Brookfield Renewable purchased the project, with SolUnesco maintaining an economic interest and continuing to provide the local boots on the ground through the construction of the solar generator.)
Charlotte County Approves Amendments to their Solar Ordinance
On October 10, 2018, Charlotte County approved several recommended text amendments to their Solar Ordinance, which was originally passed in July. Starting in February of this year, SolUnesco worked with our landowners, local businesses, and key stakeholders to provide the county with research and analyses to support their deliberations. This analysis included: information regarding the local capacity to interconnect solar; the suitability of county land for large-scale solar; the requirements that other Virginia counties are applying to solar generation facilities (including the review of 45 county ordinances and 50 permits); and an analysis of the local economic and fiscal impacts.
As solar development grows rapidly throughout Virginia, many counties have developed ordinances that place conditions on construction practices, decommissioning (decommissioning plan, security, and county rights to access the project), and on setbacks, buffers (buffer size and commitments to maintain) and operations. SolUnesco is pleased that the county has achieved a balance that creates clear requirements to ensure that neighbors are not negatively impacted, that the county is protected, and, at same time, that the project’s costs are competitive with projects in other counties.
Now that this ordinance is complete, SolUnesco and Apex Clean Energy look forward to working with Charlotte County to obtain a Conditional Use Permit for our Moody Creek project in the coming months. (In September 2018, Apex Clean Energy purchased the project, with SolUnesco maintaining an economic interest and continuing to provide the local boots on the ground through the construction of the solar generator.)
Three Cheers for Solar!
For solar energy champions, SolUnesco believes we all benefit when developers do the hard work of supporting local governments in the development of rules that balance local needs and concerns with the economic realities of an uber-competitive market. It is gratifying and exciting to see that, after years of hard work, Virginia counties and the solar industry are reaching a consensus on the zoning requirements for large-scale solar energy facilities.
Our industry is providing cost-competitive clean energy, economic development, and fiscal support in economically challenged areas. In addition, we offer an alternative use of land that both motivates and requires us to be a good neighbor for twenty or thirty years, if not longer.
We thank our partners, Brookfield Renewables and Apex Clean Energy for their leadership, expertise, and good cheer when circumstances appeared to be working against us. Every megawatt of solar on the ground is a win for everyone!