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Lightsource bp completes financing and starts construction on California pollinator friendly solar farm as part of SMUD’s Neighborhood SolarShares program

16.5 megawatt Wildflower Solar project will support the Sacramento Municipal Utility District’s community solar program as well as a pollinator habitat to boost local biodiversity

SACRAMENTO, California – Lightsource bp, a global leader in solar development, has successfully closed on a $20 million financing package and mobilized construction on its Wildflower Solar project located in Rio Linda, about 10 miles north of Sacramento, California. All of the electricity generated by the 16.5MWdc/13MWac project, enough to power about 2,600 homes, will be purchased by the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) through a long-term power contract. SMUD, one of the largest community-owned, not-for-profit, electric service providers in the US, has been recognized worldwide for its innovative leadership in sustainability.

SMUD will use the power purchased from Wildflower to support its Neighborhood SolarShares program that can provide solar to new housing developments through an off-site utility scale solar project. The community solar program gives developers the ability to deliver the environmental benefits of solar power without having to install it on every rooftop.

 

“This program provides options to builders and a net benefit to potential homebuyers, all while providing clean power to our community. The state of California and the Sacramento region are facing an affordable housing crisis and our low-cost solar option provides a valuable tool to lower the construction costs of new homes while supporting carbon reduction goals.”

Arlen Orchard SMUD CEO and General Manager

 

“The affordability of solar, combined with its generation of emissions free electricity has made it an ideal source to add to our country’s energy mix. Adding on benefits such as community solar programs that help contribute to affordable housing, along with implementing long-term land management plans that enhance local biodiversity, are all ways that we can work together to multiply solar’s contribution to our nation’s economy and environment.”

Kevin Smith CEO of the Americas for Lightsource bp

 

Financing provided by leading institutions

Lightsource bp secured tax equity financing for the project from Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, via its partnership with the Rockwood Group. National Westminster Bank PLC (NatWest), a major retail and commercial bank and leading project financing lender in Europe and long-standing partner of Lightsource bp, is the senior project finance debt lender. The balance of the equity requirements will be invested by Lightsource BP. Lightsource bp engaged CohnReznick as the financial advisor on the transaction.

 

Local jobs

Project construction is underway, with commercial operation expected by the end of 2020. Construction Innovations, one of the largest locally based U.S. manufacturers of specialized electrical systems, has partnered with local contractors to build the project. The project will employ more than 75 on-site construction team members from the local community during peak construction, in addition to supporting full time manufacturing jobs within Construction Innovations’ Sacramento facility. Founded in Sacramento in 2011, Construction Innovations has provided the electrical systems needed to power over 6% of all solar capacity nationwide.

 

Pollinator friendly solar – fostering biodiversity and boosting crop yields

Lightsource bp creates customized long-term land and environmental management plans for solar farms that aim to maintain, as well as develop, plant and wildlife habitats to provide a net gain for local biodiversity. The plan for Wildflower Solar will be to create a pollinator friendly solar farm, designed in collaboration with ecology experts to restore and conserve pollinator habitat.

Here in California as well as around the world, habitat loss and climate change have caused pollinator populations to decline. Over 85% of the world’s flowering plants, including more than two-thirds of the world’s crop species, are dependent on pollinators, so declining populations have detrimental effects on food systems worldwide. Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory have found that stable pollinator populations facilitated by pollinator-friendly solar farms allowed nearby agricultural land to be pollinated and, ultimately, boosted crop yields.

 

About Lightsource bp

Lightsource bp is a global leader in the development and management of solar energy projects. They are a 50:50 joint venture with bp plc, working together to help drive the world’s transition to low carbon energy through competitively priced and sustainable electricity. With solar set to increase tenfold in the next 20 years, Lightsource bp is well-positioned to capitalize on this growth and enact real change on the global energy landscape through responsible solar projects.

The team is comprised of 500 industry specialists, active across 13 countries – providing a full-service to their customers from initial site selection and permitting through to long-term management of projects. Lightsource bp in the US is headquartered in San Francisco with development offices in Denver, Philadelphia, Atlanta and Houston. Since the company announced its strategic expansion into North America in late 2017, the team has developed a pipeline of more than 7 gigawatts of large-scale solar projects at various stages of development across the United States with over one gigawatt of contracted assets.  For more information visit lightsourcebp.com, follow us on Twitter @lightsourceBP and Instagram @lightsourcebp or view our LinkedIn page. For media inquiries, please contact Mary Grikas at mary.grikas@lightsourcebp.com.

 

About SMUD

As the nation’s sixth-largest community-owned electric service provider, SMUD has been providing low-cost, reliable electricity for almost 75 years to Sacramento County (and small adjoining portions of Placer and Yolo Counties). SMUD is a recognized industry leader and award winner for its innovative energy efficiency programs, renewable power technologies, and for its sustainable solutions for a healthier environment. SMUD’s power mix is about 50 percent non-carbon emitting. For more information, visit smud.org.