Potential benefits of developing solar installations can include: 1) helping meet carbon reduction or other environmental goals, 2) creating a visible demonstration of environmental commitments, 3) public education about new energy technologies, 4) generating value from leasing of roof space. Barriers: 1) Most organizations lack the upfront capital to install a large scale solar PV system. 2) Public and non-profit organizations cannot recognize value from the tax benefits of investing in solar power plants that businesses can use. 3) Planning for solar on a single property is not financially viable due the lack of scale necessary to attract outside developers who could finance a solar project.
Concept: the Asheville-Buncombe Solar Project In order to overcome these barriers, a joint community solar initiative would bring together several key organizations to implement a large project that would include solar installations across multiple community facilities. Key attributes of the project:
•City and county governments, school districts and non-profit organizations work together on the project.
•The goal is to include enough properties to create sufficient scale to attract an experienced solar development company that would agree to provide most of the capital necessary to construct the project. 5 MW AC or greater would be a good target. The solar assets would be owned and operated by the solar developer. The roof space would be leased by the developers from participating organizations. The electricity would be 100% sold back to DukeProgress. •The community organizations hosting solar systems on their facilities would have an option to purchase the systems after the first six years of operation. Although the PV systems will still have 30+ years of useful life, the purchase price for the systems will be dramatically lower than the cost of installing a new system because the equipment will be significantly depreciated and the investment tax credits will have been fully utilized by that time.
A project structured in this manner could overcome the three major barriers identified above because 1) this approach requires little capital investment from participating organizations 2) the solar company can gain value from the tax benefits of investing in the solar project that non-profit and gov. entities cannot and 3) multiple facilities creates sufficient scale to attract a qualified, experienced solar developer with project financing capabilities.