Texas Electric Distribution Cooperatives Sign Agreements for 7 MW of Solar

by | May 23, 2019

Texas Electric Distribution Cooperatives Sign Agreements for 7 MW of Solar

(Photo Credit: Kay Ledbetter, Texas A&M AgriLife)

Five electric distribution cooperatives in Texas signed agreements to purchase 7 megawatts of distribution-scale solar generation, according to Rocky Mountain Institute, which helped coordinate the deals. The solar arrays are expected to begin operation by June 2020.

The buyers are Bartlett Electric Cooperative, Comanche Electric Cooperative, Heart of Texas Electric Cooperative, PenTex Energy, and South Plains Electric Cooperative, RMI says. Canadian renewable energy developer Saturn Power Corporation will develop, construct, own, and operate the solar generation projects, and also be responsible for selling energy to the cooperatives through 20-year power purchase agreements (PPAs).

Saturn Power was selected through a competitive bidding process that RMI managed as the buyers’ representative. The Ontario-based company has developed and contracted 200 MW of wind, solar, and battery storage projects.

“The solar arrays for each of the buyers will be sited on the cooperatives’ distribution systems, thereby avoiding Energy Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) demand charges and generation capacity charges from their generation and transmission providers,” RMI said. “Considering these demand-charge savings in addition to the low price of the solar energy produced, RMI believes the portfolio of solar systems will provide more total value to the buyers than a utility-scale solar installation would.”

Rocky Mountain Institute calls Texas an attractive market for distribution-scale solar development due in part to the state’s strong solar resource and high per-capita carbon intensity. RMI says that it is working with partners in the state on late-stage discussions to facilitate additional distribution-scale solar procurements.

“Developing these solar energy installations makes a lot of sense for our members,” said Bryan Lightfoot, general manager and CEO of Bartlett Electric Cooperative, which has more than 9,100 members and 12,100 meters. “Not only will we be providing more clean, locally sourced energy to our community and hardening our grid, but we expect to save money over the life of these projects by becoming more self-sufficient.”

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