Solar Builder

NOV-DEC 2018

Solar Builder focuses on the installation/construction of solar PV systems. We cover the latest PV technology (modules, mounting, inverters, storage, BOS) and equip installers/contractors with tips and tools to make informed purchasing decisions.

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SOLARBUILDERMAG.COM | 25 At that point Ichter pauses and notes, "The construction of the project went extremely smooth. This wasn't about challenges Conti faced, this was about the challenges of penciling a project in Ohio." Muni model Editor's Note: Solar Builder is based in Ohio, so I'd be lying if I said I wasn't pulling for this one to get the most votes from our readers. I also hoped that when it did win, the story here would be about the oncoming wave of solar developments in the state. Like Cleveland Browns offseason excitement, my dreams were squashed immediately. The tale you've just read of the Brooklyn landfill feels anomalous — a project of perseverance and good timing and not a harbinger of similar deals to come. Or, is it? Let's look at the details again. Remember that a key in the initial development was finding a suitable site that could serve the county's buildings. When that per- fect site was found, it wasn't connected to any customer load and was not within the service territory of the utility that needed to deliver it. This could have killed the deal, but it didn't. Instead the county switched to CPP, which was willing to get its hands dirty (or clean, in this case) and find a solution to build a connection and bring the array into its service territory. "We think there is a good future for these kind of projects when there's a partnership with the end-users, the municipality and solar developer," Smith says. "Cases where the utility participates in a project is critical. We give a lot of credit to CPP for getting involved. For any other munis that want to get involved, this is a great model." Smith noted that municipal utilities are the key because large investor-owned utilities "don't have the structure in place in Ohio to allow for virtual PPAs to be set up." "Munis are increasingly educated and motivated to make use of land that's otherwise been unused, and we see them increasingly educated and motivated to do more renewables within their foot- print," he says. "Municipalities that also have control of the grid and are not served by investor-owned utilities are the ones that are near term best suited for these types of projects because they can help craft the rules or structure in which the power is delivered." The prepayment was another crucial part of the deal that is now no longer viable, but Foley is unconcerned about that hurt- ing future deals: "I don't think you need the prepayment. When we started this off, we were thinking pre-purchase was important because we needed to find a developer who would really want to do this because there are way more projects in the world to make money on and electricity is so cheap here in Ohio. We did pre- purchase to guarantee that it would get funded. But I think that the financing models and investment core out there is more mature now. Others should be fine." Another key early in the development process was Enerlogics securing site control with the City of Brooklyn and running a competitive RFP process for the EPC activity. "Utilizing a competitive process for the EPC early in the develop- ment helped reduce project risk and ensured price certainty around the PPA structure,' says Scott Ameduri, president of Enerlogics. "Additionally, early selection of our EPC partner Conti allowed the development team to work proactively to manage risk and optimize the system design to meet the needs of all stakeholders. As an example, early EPC selection provided certainty on system sizing and cost and allowed the county to consider the inclusion of Ohio content under a higher PPA rate." This deal is customized to the parties involved, but Enerlogics remains "bullish on solar, particularly in Ohio and Pennsylvania. "We continue to find ways to drive greater economic value for our clients, to include solar and solar+storage, as well as other behind the meter operational activities such as demand response and energy efficiency," Ameduri says. IGS is looking at other projects in that market where they can leverage an existing structure to make more projects work for other off-takers using the same approach. Smith sees other landfill proj- ects working economically in Ohio, "they just need longer terms — 20- and 25-year." That state regulation is still a barrier, but Foley and his depart- ment have been busy since their inception taking notes of barriers like the short-term PPA regulation and drafting bills to try and affect change. The past doesn't have to be prologue here, and having this one project in place, one that made it through against stacked odds, will help the case for other deals once it starts producing. The Brooklyn blueprint We can't overlook the poetic undertone of this project: Cleveland, a city forever haunted by the ghosts of a polluted river catching fire in the '70s, reused unusable, polluted land for the purposes of pro- viding renewable energy to its city buildings. Not only that, but the city made sure that at least 80 percent of the workforce came from Ohio, plus the racking and foundations (RBI Solar) and the mod- ules (First Solar) were all supplied within state borders. Not even a California project can always match that level of local involvement. "We need to ramp this up as much as possible, so we're using this as an example," Foley says. "This took us a long time, but we have good PPA documents and energy service contracts, and we are mak- ing them available if other places in the county are interested in using the example." The last thing Smith said during our interview was "This is the most exciting project I've ever been a part of," and as unabashed Ohioans, we echo that sentiment. Chris Crowell is the managing editor of Solar Builder. Developer: Enerlogics, IGS Solar EPC: Conti Solar Modules: First Solar Series 4 Inverters: SMA Solar Mounting: RBI Solar

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