Dallas, Texas headquartered developer Leeward Renewable Energy announced it has completed construction and achieved commercial operations on the Rabbitbrush Solar Facility, located in Kern County, California, a hotbed for some of the nation’s largest solar and energy storage projects.
The project is a 100 MW solar facility with a co-located 20 MW, 50 MWh battery energy storage system. It is comprised of 415,000 thin-film PV modules and lithium-ion batteries. Construction of the project employed 380 workers at its peak.
Electricity generated by the project will be sold Central Coast Community Energy and Silicon Valley Clean Energy, two not-for-profit, community-owned electric providers who will purchase power via 15-year power purchase agreements.
Leeward closed construction financing and tax equity commitments in June of 2022 and closed on the tax equity funding this October. The closed funding includes $58.5 million in Green Loan construction financing and an additional $62.5 million tax equity commitments.
Leeward originally acquired the Rabbitbrush project from First Solar, as part of a $261 million deal where the module manufacturer sold Leeward its 10 GW utility-scale solar project platform.
The deal included the Rabbitbrush, Madison, Oak Trail, Horizon, and Ridgely projects, and the 30 MW Barilla Solar project, which is operational. The project pipeline includes projects in the California, Southwest, and Southeast markets. Sale of the platform is a result of a strategic review First Solar announced last year, according to CEO Mark Widmar, and is intended to enable the company to focus on scaling, developing, and selling module technology.
As part of the deal, Leeward signed on to buy 650 MW of First Solar’s Series 6 PV solar modules for its additional development opportunities. Leeward’s acquisition includes purchase orders for 888 MW of Series 6 modules for the five development projects.
The solar and storage facility is expected to meet the needs of nearly 40,000 California homes, displacing an estimated 48,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually. The company has committed $150,000 to the National Audubon Society and the Kern Audobon Society to fund the study and conservation of the Swanson’s Hawk in the Antelope Valley region.
“Responsible renewable energy development and wildlife conservation go hand in hand, and LRE’s contribution to the very important Swainson’s Hawk Conservation Fund will help hawks in the Antelope Valley of California survive and thrive,” said Garry George, director of the National Audubon Society’s Clean Energy Initiative. “We are pleased to collaborate with LRE as we advance habitat conservation and clean energy in Kern and Los Angeles Counties, and we look forward to partnering with other companies in the region to ensure renewable energy facilities avoid, minimize, and mitigate the impacts on birds and other wildlife.”
Leeward is a portfolio company of OMERS Infrastructure, an investment arm of OMERS, one of Canada’s largest benefit pension plans.
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