Community Energy Receives $9.7 Million in Financing for Community Solar Projects

Written By: Jen Neville
November 1, 2018

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community solarAt Infocast’s Community Solar 2.0, solar developers, customer aggregation firms, retail energy suppliers, utilities, the finance community and other industry players will gather to dive into the business of developing and financing third-party community solar. It will build on the industry’s early experience and look at opportunities for industry players to more successfully serve the market…

Community Energy, Inc., recently announced with Key Equipment Finance, that a $7.8 million tax lease and a $1.9 million term loan had been provided in financing for community solar projects in Massachusetts totaling 3.75 MW. The community solar projects are split between solar farms in the Towns of Barre and Rutland and will generate remote net metering credits. A Massachusetts commercial customer will purchase half the generation output, with the remainder purchased by residential community solar subscribers.

Since its inception in 1999, Community Energy has led the development, financing and construction of over 1,500 MW of wind and solar facilities. Community Energy operates and manages some of the nation’s first community solar projects with residential and commercial customer subscriptions. Much needed community solar projects like this one help the energy market, educate communities and offer a local, cost-effective energy source.

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“The partners on these Massachusetts solar projects are leading the way on sustainability and climate change,” stated Brent Alderfer, CEO of Developer, Community Energy Solar. “Our leading corporate customer on this solar project, joined by local residents, agreed to buy the solar output under the National Grid Utility community solar program, and Key Equipment Finance, with its expert solar finance team, sealed the deal by providing project finance.”

Community Energy continues to innovate and lead renewable energy into new markets. For Massachusetts, Community Energy used sale-leaseback financing, which includes a Power Purchase Agreement and allows monetization of the tax benefits, inclusive of the investment tax credit and depreciation. In this solar tax lease structure, Community Energy owns and operates the system and sells the power.

“Customized financing plays an important role by bringing the benefits of community solar to more customers,” added Doug Beebe, vice president of energy finance for Key Equipment Finance Clean Energy, which provides financing across all types of clean energy products. “It also contributes to Key’s broader sustainability goals.”

Community solar projects are built within the local region using the best solar technology and design to provide cost-effective solar under utility programs like this one with National Grid that allow businesses and residents to purchase a share of the solar electricity generated by the project. The customers get the full solar benefits, including locked-in electricity prices, without the need to build solar on what might be less-than-ideal sites on their property. Customers are motivated to take their own steps to reduce their footprint and meet their electricity needs from solar power for years to come. For corporations, renewable energy is an increasingly important part of corporate environmental sustainability strategies, and community solar is one way to achieve that goal.

For Barre Solar, 7,434 Hanwha 330 watt modules are installed, and for Rutland Solar, 3,927 Hanwha 330 watt modules are installed both on fixed tilt, ground-mounted racking provided by RBI Solar and interconnected to the National Grid electric distribution system at 13.8 kilovolts with SMA string inverters.

The 3.75 megawatt (DC) system will eliminate over 7.8 million pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere annually which equals the use of approximately 8,000 barrels of oil. The lifetime environmental impact is equivalent to over 75,000 trees planted.

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