Community Solar and Ohio’s HB450 Bill: What You Should Know

What is Community Solar?

Community solar projects can be defined as solar projects, within a geographic area, in which the benefits of a solar project flow to multiple customers. These are typically state-sponsored programs for renewable energy generation installed on lands adjacent to existing powerlines and grid infrastructure. An example of a community solar program could be a large array of solar panels in a field that provides the residents of nearby communities with power and reduces their overall electricity costs.

Community solar projects are becoming increasingly commonplace, as roughly ⅓ of states have adopted some form of community solar legislation. These laws impose stringent building rules and regulations on community solar projects to ensure that the project will not be detrimental to the environment, and will not negatively affect the residents’ current energy arrangements. In states that have yet to pass such legislation, community solar projects are typically undertaken by local utility companies.

There are many situations in today’s world where a community solar project makes sense. Oftentimes “greenfield” community solar projects are common in more rural areas, as their larger sizes allow more people to draw power from the array. These kinds of projects provide the benefits of solar power without the need to install panels on the roof of a home, as they are typically constructed “off-site,” meaning that the power is generated in a different location than the one that it is used in. Subscribers to these types of projects can simply drive by the field with the array and see the project that they’ve helped to create and benefit from.

Community solar projects are exciting new ventures that will revitalize our power infrastructure and benefit the communities that they serve. The advantages to these kinds of renewable energy projects are numerous and further incentivize a transition to more renewable energy sources.

Benefits of Community Solar

There are a multitude of benefits to be gained from community solar projects at both the individual and commercial levels. For individuals, community solar projects allow access to solar power for those who live too far from a large-scale array and for whom a personal rooftop solar project would be too expensive or inaccessible. 

These projects also decrease the cost of electricity for its ratepayers, as offering more diverse sources of electricity means more supply with the same demand, therefore resulting in lower prices. This point was explained by Ohio State Representative Laura Lanese in a recent statement where she said, “It’s a simple matter of the law of supply and demand. If we increase supply while holding demand constant, prices will go down. Even if demand goes up, as it likely will, having access to more electricity generation sources will only help consumers stave off price increases.”

Another benefit to community solar projects that Lanese outlines in her statement is that of cleaner air. She states that the transition away from fossil fuels will result in cleaner air, improved health, and huge savings in healthcare costs. Lanese goes on to say, “It is estimated that fossil fuels cost the US nearly $120 billion in health care costs and contribute to four out of five of the leading causes of deaths.” In essence, community solar projects could help to improve the general health of citizens in the area as well as reduce healthcare expenses! 

Community solar projects also provide value in the way of national defense as our world becomes more reliant on renewable sources of energy. Lanese describes this in her statement, citing China’s current increased focus on renewable energy as one reason that the United States should continue investing in green energy sources like solar. Lanese states, “Most experts acknowledge that having access to renewable energy in the next fifty years could be a major factor in many future hostilities…Last year alone China installed a record 120 BW of renewable power more than twice the amount from the previous year.” Investing in renewable energy is a necessary measure to ensure the national security of our nation in the coming future. 

What Does HB450 Mean for Ohio?

HB450 is a bill currently being introduced to the Ohio legislature which seeks to encourage the construction of community solar projects in the state of Ohio through a variety of means. This bill will bolster Ohio’s power infrastructure, improve the lives of ratepayers, and help to meet the growing demand for renewable energy.

Lower Power Costs

  • One such initiative outlined in the bill will prevent changes to subscribers’ rates as a result of community solar projects. Essentially, these projects will keep the power bills down!
  • This stipulation will protect subscribers from price hikes as a result of community solar programs, as well as prevents them from being unjustly disconnected from service.
  • Increased electricity prices are often one of the largest concerns around community solar projects; however, based on the HB450 bill, it is an unfounded concern.
Power Grid Improvement

  • Community solar projects can lead to the improvement of the existing power grid.
  • Solar developers will fund overdue improvements to aging powerlines and other power infrastructures, thus creating a more reliable and resilient power grid.
  • Also included in the bill is financial assistance for companies who update the existing power infrastructure in order to construct their community solar projects. This is simply another incentive to produce more community solar projects in the state of Ohio.
Distressed Site Renovation
 
  • The final way that this bill will encourage new community solar programs is through the renovation of distressed sites. The bill seeks to use distressed sites, unusable tracts of land such as old landfills or coal ash piles, as locations for new solar developments. In this way, these sites will be revitalized and, once more, positively contribute to society through high-power generating solar projects.
  • Companies that use a distressed site as the location for their community solar project will be eligible to receive a grant from the Ohio Department of Development, thereby further incentivizing companies to build in Ohio.

Community solar is simpler than it may seem and initiatives like the ones included in HB450 are making it easier for individuals to incorporate solar power into their everyday lives! If you’re a landowner curious about how to lease your unused property for a solar project, why not reach out to one of our experienced professionals here at NLR Solar?

NLR Solar’s access to the extensive NLR agent network allows us to effectively evaluate your property to its fullest potential. We act as an intermediary between developers and landowners to the benefit of not only the parties involved but also the community and environment as well. If you’re interested in learning more about what NLR Solar can do for you and your community, give us a call at 864-331-1600, or contact us for a free site evaluation!

Edited by Bryce Berglund

Washington

Shortly after taking office, President Joe Biden pledged to slash the United States’ carbon emissions to half the levels seen in 2005 by 2030. The key to reaching this goal is to phase out coal and natural gas and invest in renewable energy instead. Solar is the future of renewable energy—no doubt about it. Still, fierce debates rage across the country over where to install solar panels.

Washington State Sees a Surge in Large Solar Projects

Gov. Jay Inslee has been a strong proponent of large-scale solar installations since 2019 when a law passed calling for the end of electricity production from coal and natural gas by 2045. As local officials continue to combat climate change, the power industry in the sun-drenched region east of the Cascades is being redefined.

But legislation isn’t the only driving factor for Washington’s surge in large solar developments. The rapidly falling cost of photovoltaic (PV) panels is also increasing interest in solar power. Plus, the chance to earn a lucrative income by leasing out acreage to solar developers has traditional farmers rethinking how they want to use their land.

Solar Farms in Washington State

More than 20 solar farms covering over 22,000 acres are currently in the planning or building phases across the state. One of the largest of these is the Horse Heaven Hills project in Benton County, a $1.7 billion installation that could include up to 244 wind turbines and several solar sites covering more than 6,500 acres. Running at full capacity, the farm could generate up to 1,150 megawatts (MW) of power. Even at partial capacity caused by the ups and downs of solar and wind, the project is expected to power some 275,000 homes.

The proposed lease fees for solar farms often far exceed the per-acre earnings farmers and ranchers traditionally earn. This is especially true in places like Horse Heaven Hills, where farmers have long struggled to coax profitable yields from their arid lands. Consider that a 40-acre community-scale solar project in Washington could come with lease fees of $2,500 per acre per year with a 2% escalator. This amounts to $100,000 in income the first year alone, with a 2% increase every year after that.

If You’re a Landowner, Act Now!

Do you own land in Washington State? If so, you may be interested in leasing some of your property to a solar developer. Chances are you have already been approached by one company or another with offers to convert your open space into an energy-generating solar farm. But how do you know which developer is a good match for you? After all, you may not want to sign on the dotted line with the first company that comes knocking.

That’s where NLR Solar comes in. We are experts in community- and utility-scale solar projects and can help you weigh the pros and cons of working with different developers.

With us by your side helping you navigate the process, you’ll have the best chance of seeing your project to completion and reaping the financial rewards for decades to come. Contact us today for a free evaluation.

Virginia

It should be no surprise at this point that solar development has come to the state of Virginia in a big way. The state ranks 4th in the nation for solar development and shows strong promise for growth over the next decade. In the spring of 2020, the Virginia legislature passed the Clean Economy Act which aims to make Virginia zero carbon by 2050.

A major component of this is promoting renewable energy, of which a large portion of the development will be greenfield utility scale solar farms. Solar development is not new to the state, but indications are that it will dramatically increase in both size and scale over the coming years and there are some important things to consider as a landowner before entering into a solar lease with a developer. 

Project Sizes Matter

Utility scale solar projects generally fall into two categories and the project timeline, site criteria, and lease rates can vary significantly.

1. Transmission

Transmission, meaning they tie into the large scale transmission power lines and the smaller ones to connect with distribution lines (or the three phase power lines you typically see running through your neighborhood). Sizes vary, but generally Transmission scale projects need to be greater than 200 Acres and can go as big as 1,000 Acres.   For quite some time, there has been a market for the Transmission scale projects and developers have scoured the state reaching out to landowners with land situated near the substations or transmission lines.  One challenge has become that lines are saturated with new project applications and there just isn’t enough infrastructure to support it. This can be solved through line upgrades and new infrastructure, but it has promoted the need for smaller projects in order to reach the state’s clean energy goals. 

2. Distributed Generation

Distributed Generation, these are smaller farms, usually situated on 20-40 Acres and typically interconnect to 3 phase power lines (normally found in residential neighborhoods). As a part of the Clean Economy Act, a new Community Solar program will focus on DG projects, so it’s safe to assume these will make up the bulk of the solar development over the next few years. The good news for landowners is that these are faster to permit and interconnect with utilities than transmission projects. Distributed Generation projects can be done in as short as 12-18 months verse the 3-5 years it may take to complete a Transmission scale project. 

Virginia is one of the few states that has very active development in both categories, so if you are interested in leasing your land for solar, it’s important to understand the difference.

Know Your Utility

Solar development is heavily concentrated within the investor owned utilities (IOU) service territories – Dominion and Appalachian Power. While some municipal and cooperative utilities may promote isolated solar development, the wide scale demand is for land in the IOU territory. The service territory maps are published by multiple sources and vary in accuracy, leading to confusion for developers, so it’s important to know the service territory or the utility ownership of the nearest power line to your property.

Environmental Challenges

Virginia is one of the most challenging states to develop solar farms because of the physical characteristics of the land.  Solar farms are challenged by excessive slope – which reduces the amount of sunlight that hits the panels and wetlands/waterways. As you can imagine,electricity and water don’t mix. Because solar projects require large amounts of contiguous land, the slopes, streams and wetlands that cover the state pose problems in site planning and construction. Also, beware of critical habitat zones or agricultural preservation easements.  Even though it’s clean energy, any development restrictions will still apply and kill the potential for solar development.

Helps to know your neighbors!

Because of the environmental constraints and the higher priced interconnection costs for the transmission scale projects, it is very helpful to know your neighbors if you are interested in leasing your property for solar. One of the biggest development challenges is assembling groups of properties, but if the property owners work together by organizing or cooperating with each other, oftentimes they can command a higher and more consistent lease rate than if they negotiated individually.

Do you think your property in Virginia could be a great match for solar development? If so, we encourage you to explore your options sooner than later, as the market is incredibly competitive.

At NLR Solar we have a team dedicated to helping you navigate the process, ensuring your land is fully vetted for projects and you’re paired with the perfect partner when it comes to development. Contact us today for a free evaluation.

Pennsylvania

If you are a landowner in Pennsylvania, odds are you have been contacted by a solar developer over the past 18 months. There is a lot of momentum behind solar development on several different fronts and this has generated a boom of interest in sites for these projects.

Unfortunately, there are several different development paths for different types of projects and the information can be sparse, leaving landowners scrambling to get the details before making a decision. Here are a few tips and nuggets of info that may help you along the way.

If I lease my land, what are the chances a project will be successful?  

This of course is the million dollar question when landowners are considering leasing their land for solar. Many Pennsylvania landowners carry scar tissue from the oil and gas mineral rights which were acquired by speculators – and nothing ever came of it except a cloud on title leading to challenges with property transfers. The Solar industry has been slowly gaining ground and while there may not be many projects installed at this time, there is a lot of momentum with key legislation in the works which could overnight greenlight a wave of new projects.  

What legislation?  What is driving this new solar development?

There are general trends that are driving utility scale solar development  – including the cost of panels steadily decreasing over the past decade and a focus on environmental benefits from utilities. The  most recent boost is due to key legislation, including bill SB472, which according to a recent article in PV Magazine, will deliver more than $1.8 billion into the state and authorize the development of small-scale community solar projects, enabling more than 200 shovel-ready projects to break ground.  

Should I wait and see how it plays out before signing a lease?

Unfortunately, the solar development market is so competitive that most of these projects have been underway well before the legislation will pass. A major factor in site selection is the capacity along the power lines which the projects will eventually interconnect with.  Interconnection applications are honored on a first come first serve basis so even if you have a great site, if there are too many projects ahead of it in the queue there will not be enough capacity left to build a project.  So while it may seem prudent to wait it out, the opportunity may not be there if you choose to do so.

What Makes a Good Solar Site in PA?

Factors such as land size, physical characteristics, and proximity to powerlines are the primary drivers when developers are selecting potential sites. To learn more about the specifics on what makes for a good solar site click here.

In Pennsylvania there are a few special factors developers must also consider.  For one, excessive slope or bedrock is a major challenge for development and Pennsylvania offers no shortage of either. Another is that the community solar program in the works will only apply for the investor owned utilities, not for coops or municipal utilities. These service territory maps and ownership of lines are not well documented so it’s difficult for developers to be sure of the property utility when initially reaching out. It’s important to know the power company associated with the site – as this may save you a good deal of time, energy, and legal bills if you know the project won’t work right off the bat. It’s important to be aware if you have oil and gas rights sold off or active wells on your property. These won’t necessarily be deal breakers, but a developer must resolve this with the oil and gas company before getting started. As you can imagine, they cannot run the risk of an oil and gas company tearing up a solar farm to drill or repair a well.  

Are there predatory speculative developers?  What should I look out for?

The solar market has become a very lucrative business for developers.  Each project could fetch millions of dollars once interconnected and constructed. It takes a lot of investment, risk and experience to get these projects to the finish line, but there are a number of speculative middlemen looking to secure these leases and flip them to other companies. Some simple interview questions to ask before you get too far down the road should be: 

  1. What is your development experience? Do you have a portfolio you can share with me?
  2. Can you share more about your financial stability with me?  
  3. What does your process look like? Will you remain involved in the project the entire time or does your company pass us along to a third party?

Also, there should be a fair consideration paid to the landowner during the option period. This money is at risk and a developer would prefer to invest it in the project costs, but it’s still a good test of their financial stability and should compensate the landowner for the time spent negotiating the lease option.  

As for specific lease provisions, make sure there is decommissioning language to account for removing the project at the end of the lease. Other folks in the midwest have seen issues with cell phone towers and wind-turbines that have been abandoned by the tenants and left a costly clean up for the landowner. The good news is solar panels are simpler to remove and they have valuable metals that a tenant wouldn’t want to leave behind. Also, beware of property taxes. Oftentimes developers will offer to pay for any property tax increases that may occur as a result of the project. It’s a standard provision but make sure it’s included. The last thing you want is to be stuck with a big tax bill as a result of the project.

The truth is, a number of the projects put under lease option will never be constructed.  Keep this in mind when negotiating the lease and don’t count your eggs before they hatch.  The high lease rates are attractive so it’s very much worth the endeavor but it’s important to manage your expectations.  

At NLR Solar our team is well versed in solar development projects and happy to help you navigate what can be a cumbersome and confusing process. Our team of experts are here to help evaluate your property and ensure you partner with the best developer for the job.

If you think your land in Pennsylvania could be a good fit for solar development, contact us today for a free evaluation.

Ohio

Ohio has millions of acres of flat, sunny land—the ideal landscape for building utility-scale solar or wind farms. Right now, solar is more appealing to developers because the cost to install photovoltaic (PV) panels has dropped drastically in recent years. Solar farms are also more attractive to landowners and neighbors because the panels sit close to the ground and are surrounded by vegetation, making them less noticeable.

But for some reason, solar doesn’t appeal to the Ohio Senate. If you’re interested in leasing your land for solar development, you must first understand the currently contentious solar landscape in Ohio.

State Policies Largely Oppose Solar

Time and again, Ohio lawmakers have taken measures to gut the state’s renewable energy program. In 2014, Senate Bill 310 loosened clean energy rules for utilities. Then, in 2019, House Bill 6 bailed out the state’s two nuclear power plants. Part of HB 6 lowered the renewable energy requirement for utilities from 12.5 percent to 8.5 percent by 2026, and the regulation will drop after that date.

The latest legislation out of the Ohio Senate—SB 52—creates even more hurdles for renewable developments. It grants county commissions the power to limit or outright ban solar and wind energy projects. It can even pull the plug on installations that are already in development.

Solar Will Prevail in Ohio!

The development of solar energy in Ohio is rocketing forward despite the state legislature’s opposition to renewables. Lower costs, advancing technology, and demand from companies that want to use renewable energy are all market forces driving the continued push toward more solar farms. Amazon, Facebook, and Google—all of which have energy-intensive data centers in central Ohio—are the big-name companies in the state that have pledged to switch to renewables.

There are also companies like American Electric Power based in Columbus, which is aiming to reach net-zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050. That’s the goal for many companies and even entire states across the country. As solar panel efficiency, storage options, analytics, and the grid itself continue to develop, everyone can work together to reach net-zero by 2050!

Get Help Finding a Solar Development Partner

Despite opposition from legislators, solar developers are vying for opportunities to lease land in Ohio and become part of the PJM Interconnection, a region that covers several states and gives developers a larger market for their product. If you own land in Ohio, you have what developers are looking for! You can lease your land to build a utility-scale solar farm and earn much more money than you could by growing crops.

Still, you don’t necessarily want to team up with the first developer that comes knocking. Work with NLR Solar, and we’ll help you find the perfect partner. As experts in utility-scale solar farms, we’ll ensure your land is fully vetted and help you successfully navigate the process of leasing your property.

We would be happy to help you navigate the process, ensuring you partner with the best developer for the job. Contact us today for a free evaluation.

New York

If you are a landowner in New York, chances are alternative energy companies have contacted you many times over the past few years about setting up a solar farm on your property. The market is hot right now, having grown by a whopping 575% over the past four years.

Now, time is running out to lease land for solar in New York. Is this the right time to act?

Why is Time Running Out?

The population-dense New York metro area has immense energy needs, and Upstate New York has the open spaces utilities are looking for to develop utility-scale solar farms. Demand remains high for eligible solar sites, but time is running out for you to act. Here’s why:

New York is Close to Achieving Its Energy Goals

The Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act requires New York State to get 70% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030. To date, more than 50% has already been contracted, and most of the remainder is expected to come from offshore wind.

Solar is Growing Rapidly

While there haven’t been a tremendous number of solar projects built to date in New York, around 27,000 projects totaling nearly 6 gigawatts (GW) of capacity are in the utility interconnection queues. So while demand remains high, the utility grid’s capacity at the community level is nearly saturated.

Suitable Land is Running Out

The New York solar market can only grow at breakneck speed for so long. After all, there aren’t many suitable sites left for utility-scale solar arrays. Like the Sooners that raced to settle the best Oklahoma farmland in the 1800s, and the 49ers that snatched up their place in the Sierra Nevada during the Gold Rush, today’s utility companies are scrambling to secure a spot before they’re all gone.

Why Should Landowners Lease Property for Solar?

In many cases, solar farms are the highest and best use for any undeveloped land in New York, but the opportunity to lease your site to a solar developer won’t be around much longer. This is your chance to secure above market lease rates that some farmers are reporting generate 20 times the income cropland would pay. This rock-solid income stream will last for the next 25 to 35 years—don’t take it for granted!

The Impacts of the NY- Sun Initiative

Since the launch of the NY-Sun initiative in 2011, solar has grown immensely while also seeing a significant decline in cost. It has also helped to create roughly 12,000 jobs throughout the state. With all combined projects, the state sits at 95% of Governor Cuomo’s goal to install 6 gigawatts of solar by 2025. 2020 was New York’s most productive year for solar installations with 459 megawatts of capacity installed.

Enabling consumers to subscribe to local community solar projects, increases access to solar for homeowners and renters who may not have the ability to install their own solar panels. Community solar arrangements are delivered via a customer’s regular electric provider. The power produced from the community solar array is fed back to the electric grid, and subscribers receive credit on their electric bills for their portion of the community solar system.

How to Find the Right Solar Development Partner

The key to successfully completing your project is to choose a partner with a positive track record. Given the high demand for solar developments in New York right now, you may not know where to begin.

That’s where NLR Solar comes in. Our team is well-versed in solar developments and serves to mediate the relationship between landowners and developers. With our services, you can expect the smoothest, most successful project possible.

We would be happy to help you navigate the process, so contact us today for a free evaluation.

New Mexico

If you are a New Mexico landowner with a powerline anywhere near your property, you may be getting some interest from Solar Developers to lease your property for a solar farm. While this may be a new concept to you, solar development has been steadily building across the country and due to recent legislation passing it is about to expand to New Mexico in a big way.

Here are a few things you should know before signing a lease with the first developer who knocks on your door.

Project Size Matters

The recent legislation that is promoting solar development is a Community Solar program which will probably be capped at 5 Megawatt project sizes – equivalent to roughly 40 Acres. This means a developer will NOT be able to build larger than that, so if you have a larger property, they won’t be able to lease more than a 40 acre footprint. Oftentimes, landowners are looking to maximize the rents for the land and would prefer developers to use a larger amount.

In the past two years there have been similar community solar initiatives in Colorado, Maryland, Illinois, Massachusetts, and right now Virginia and Pennsylvania are working through the process. The good news is that hopefully there has been a lot learned from the private and public sectors on how to successfully roll this out.

Prepare for Patience

It’s important to understand the development timelines for these types of projects. It would be great if you could decide you wanted to lease your property and then construction started the next week and you immediately could start collecting rent. Unfortunately, like most development these days, there are hoops developers need to jump through, including securing an interconnection and power purchase agreement with the local utility, permitting and construction. Typically this process takes between 18-24 months to complete.

While the legislation has passed, it is now up to the Public Regulation Commission to establish the final rules and regulations, which is estimated to be completed by late spring of 2022. The good news is, most qualified developers are comfortable beginning the development process and making investments now, so they will be ready for construction as soon as the program opens.

Pick the Right Partner

Unlike evaluating a buyer for your home where the goal is pretty simple and a short time frame, in this case finding a developer who can complete your project involves some shared risk and time. It’s very much a partner type relationship. Bottom line, it will take time, money, and experience to complete a development so you’ll want a partner with a positive track record in solar development. Given the national attention towards solar development in the past few years, there have been a lot of groups coming out of the woodwork who are just trying to jump into the game. We encourage you to be cautious and do your research prior to making any deals.

Timing is Key

While it is always prudent to explore all options and do the proper due diligence, there is a relatively short fuse on the opportunity to lease for solar. The biggest reason is the interconnection process with the utility. While the final regulations will vary, oftentimes the utilities accept applications on a first come first served basis. The power lines will quickly become saturated with projects and the chance of project success is significantly reduced regardless of the property suitability.

If you own a significant amount of land in New Mexico near power lines and think your land could be a good fit for a solar farm, we encourage you to start educating yourself about the recent policies in your area or find a broker like NLR Solar to help guide you through the process. NLR Solar exists to mediate the relationship between you, the landowner, and developers to ensure the most successful and smooth solar development process possible.

Contact us today for a free consultation and to discover if your land could be a prime candidate for this exciting new land use in New Mexico!

Indiana

As the cost of solar and other renewable resources falls, more and more utilities across the country are diversifying their resource mix with clean energy. This shift is more polarizing in Indiana than in most other states because the coal industry makes up a significant portion of the workforce.

Indiana Utilities are Investing in Renewables

AEP Energy

Ohio-based AEP Energy signed a long-term renewable energy purchase agreement in May 2021 for power from a massive 1,400-megawatt (MW) solar farm in northern Indiana. The project spans over 12,000 acres in Starke and Pulaski counties.

AES Indiana

As part of a commitment to expand its energy generation resources, AES Indiana has invested in several solar projects across the state, which are either already in operation or currently under development. One such project is a 20 MW solar farm at the Indianapolis International Airport completed in 2015. There’s also the recently acquired 195 MW solar project in Clinton County, which is expected to begin operation in 2023.Along with investing in solar, AES has also stated it will retire two of its four coal-burning units at Petersburg Generating Station by 2023. The utility has also stopped using coal at two other plants.

Vectren Energy

In 2018, Vectren Energy announced that it would shut down three coal plants by 2023, effectively retiring 730 MW of coal-fired power. In their place, Vectren plans to open a 460 MW combined-cycle natural gas plant and invest in 700 to 1,000 MW of solar, among other renewables.

Vectren’s decision comes despite proposed legislation to place a moratorium on new resources replacing coal-fired power. That particular bill failed in 2019, but a highly contested bill from early 2020 passed, making coal plants in the state more difficult to retire. This political pressure simply wasn’t enough to sway Vectren in light of economic and environmental signs that renewable energy is the future.

When this utility provider announced plans to diversify its energy resources in 2018, its generation portfolio was 78% coal-fired and 10% renewable energy. By 2025, the mix will be 12% coal and 64% renewables. This change is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 75% lower than 2005 levels by 2035 and save consumers up to $320 million over the next 20 years.

Duke Energy Renewables Solar LLC

Duke Energy Renewables Solar LLC, a division of Duke Energy, plans to build a $180 million solar farm in western Indiana. The 175 MW Hoosier Jack Solar project will be located on 1,500 acres of a reclaimed coal strip mine in southern Vigo County and northern Sullivan County. It is expected to produce enough electricity to power about 35,000 homes. The land, currently being used to grow crops, will be leased out by the owner and outfitted with solar panels. Construction is slated for 2023.

As a Landowner, Now is the Time to Act!

As energy resources continue to shift away from fossil fuels and toward renewables, situations like these are popping up in Indiana and across the country. If you’re a landowner, and you think your property could be a good match for solar development, now is the time to act! You can lease your land to a utility-scale solar developer and make many times more money than you could by growing crops.

Still, it’s important to know that not all developers are created equal. You may not want to sign on the dotted line with the first company that comes knocking. But how can you tell which opportunity is right for you?

That’s where NLR Solar comes in. We are experts in utility-scale solar developments and can help you navigate the process. Let us ensure that your land is fully vetted and help you pair up with the perfect partner for your solar development project.

We would be happy to help you navigate the process, ensuring you partner with the best developer for the job. Contact us today for a free evaluation.

Arizona

If you are a landowner in Arizona, you may soon be approached by solar developers—if you haven’t been already. After all, the future of Arizona’s energy landscape recently took some twists and turns. But it looks like utilities will want to establish power purchase agreements on large-scale solar farms going forward to meet newly enacted energy mandates.

First, Regulators Rejected a Clean Energy Plan

In a surprise vote highlighted in PV Magazine, the Arizona Corporation Commission rejected new standards that would have led to 100% renewable energy use in the next three decades. The plan, which had been in the works for three years, ran afoul when an amendment turned some required mandates into nonbinding goals. This change lost the support of two Democrats on the panel, flipping the vote from 4-1 in favor as of November 2020 to 2-3 opposed in May 2021.

When the vote failed, Arizona defaulted to its previous standards established in 2006, which called for 15% of utility electricity to come from renewable energy sources by 2025. The down-voted regulation would have required 50% of power to come from solar, wind, or other clean sources by 2035 and 100% by 2050.

Then, They Reversed Course

A special open meeting was held on May 26, 2021, just a few weeks after Arizona regulators rejected the rules on May 5. This time, the regulation passed with a 3-2 vote. The latest rules eliminated the contentious amendment, restoring the 100% carbon-free standards as mandates but extending the compliance date to 2070—20 years later than initially proposed.

Some of Arizona’s largest utilities, which have ambitious goals of their own, supported the clean-energy mandates in the original proposal.

  • Arizona Public Service (APS) announced that it plans to end the use of coal-fired power plants by 2031 and get 100% of its power from non-carbon emitting sources by 2050.
  • Tucson Electric Power (TEP) said that it will retire coal plants by 2032 and source at least 70% of its power from solar and wind by 2035.
  • Non-regulated Salt River Project (SRP) declared plans to more than double its utility-scale solar commitment originally announced in 2018, adding 2,025 megawatts (MW) of new solar panels to its power system by the end of 2025.

The Arizona Corporation Commission’s change of heart is a welcome reversal, one that will help Arizona get back on track and reap the benefits of a clean-energy future.

How Arizona’s Energy Goals Could Affect Landowners

To help them accomplish their goals, utility providers plan to invite landowners to add utility-scale solar farms to their properties. If a solar developer approaches you, it’s your decision whether or not to move forward. Choosing the right developer is just as important as deciding if you want to contribute to utility-scale solar development in Arizona. You don’t want to waste years under contract with a developer ill-equipped for success in the market.

At NLR Solar, our team is well-versed in solar development projects. Not all developers are equal, and we know the pros and cons of different types and ultimately which ones we believe give you the best chance at seeing a project to construction.

We would be happy to help you navigate the process, ensuring you partner with the best developer for the job. Contact us today for a free evaluation.