Teaming up on a 25-year solar PPA - Smart Energy Decisions

Utilities, Commercial, Finance, Industrial, Solar, Sourcing Renewables  -  October 20, 2016

Large Boston-based energy users team up on solar PPA

In a move expected to serve as a model for other large energy buyers looking to increase their supply of renewable energy, three large Boston-based energy users have joined together to execute a 25-year power purchase agreement for electricity  generated from a North Carolina solar facility. 

The three entities — the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston Medical Center and the management company of a popular parking structure/city park — are enabling the construction of a roughly 60-MW solar farm, expected to be the largest ever built through an alliance of buyers. 

The solar project, Summit Farms, is expected to cover about 650 acres of farmland in North Carolina and begin delivering power into the grid in December, according to an Oct. 19 news release from utility holding company Dominion Resources Inc., which owns the facility through one of its subsidiaries, Dominion Energy Inc. 

MIT has committed to buying 73% of the power generated by the new array, equivalent of to 40% of the Institute's current electricity use; MIT's purchase, which shakes out to about 44 MW, is among the largest publicly announced purchases of solar energy by any American college or university, according to a news release from Customer First Renewables, which designed, structured, and led the negotiation of the energy solution.

"Today's agreement not only enables us to address a substantial portion of MIT's campus carbon emissions, but it also enables us to demonstrate the feasibility of large-scale renewable energy projects to other potential purchasers, developers, and financiers," Maria Zuber, MIT's vice president for research said in a statement. "We believe our experience can help catalyze similar investments in clean energy, which will be vital to achieving a zero-carbon global energy system within this century."

The purchase will neutralize 100% of electricity consumption for both Boston Medical Center, a 496-bed academic medical center in Boston's South End, which is taking 26% of the output, and Post Office Square Redevelopment Corp., which manages the underground parking garage and a park in downtown Boston and is taking the remaining power output from the solar farm. 

A similar agreement was announced just days earlier by Google and three other large corporations for the output of a wind facility in the Netherlands. That deal, in which the companies agreed to purchase 95% of the output of a 4,000-person co-operative-backed wind facility, marked the first such agreement between corporations and citizens in the Netherlands. 

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