Microsoft, Nike and Common Energy partner on community solar in Oregon


Microsoft, Nike and Common Energy partnered on the Skyward Community Solar project, Standard Solar’s first community solar project in Oregon. Skyward Solar is a 2.5 MWac photovoltaic solar facility located on 12 acres. The facility is now fully operational and 100% subscribed. It consists of modules on a fixed-tilt solar racking system, supported by stationary piles. The clean energy will be fed into the Portland General Electric (PGE) grid, thus benefiting the entire community.

Common Energy is the subscriber manager for the community solar project and manages all interactions with the subscribers, interfaces with the utility, and ensures everyone gets their savings and renewable energy credits. Earlier this year, Common Energy secured $16.5 million from S2G Ventures to expand consumer access to local, community solar projects across the country, scale Common Energy’s energy management platform, and grow the company’s management and operating teams. 

“We are proud and excited to bring more world class partners into the community solar sector,” said Richard Keiser, founder and CEO of Common Energy. “We hope that Microsoft and Nike’s leadership on climate solutions will inspire other businesses and non-profits to support community solar projects across the country.”

Ribbon cutting ceremony for Skyward Solar operation.

Image: Standard Solar

Oregon’s Community Solar Program permits large corporations to subscribe up to 50% of the community solar project, and Microsoft will make up the commercial allocation of the Skyward project.

“At Microsoft, part of our vision for a sustainable future is advocating for innovative technology that empowers and benefits everyone,” said Katie Ross, global sustainability program manager. “We are proud to be a lead partner in this initiative that helps achieve environmental goals while also supporting low-income residences with clean, affordable energy. We are excited to partner on this project and be part of bringing a greener grid to the entire Clackamas County community.”

Approximately 100 Nike employees have subscribed the residential portion of the project. Like all subscribed residents, they will receive a contracted discount on their electric bills each month and Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) proportional to their share of the project’s energy generation.

“Nike and our employees are proud to support this new and innovative way to lower carbon emissions and reduce the cost of energy in our backyard,” said Seana Hannah, vice president of sustainable innovation. “We’re also excited that a portion of the project’s savings will be directed to households in our community who need these benefits most.”

In addition, 10% of the Skyward generation has been allocated to qualified low- and moderate-income households, who in turn will receive a substantial discount on their electric bills.

“We’re excited that our first completed project in Oregon, a state that requires 50% of electricity come from renewable sources by 2040, not only serves the residents of Clackamas County, but also some of the large corporations that employ them,” said Mike Streams, chief development officer at Standard Solar.

Last year several changes were made to Oregon’s Community Solar Program. In addition to opening up to development a remaining 80 MW of PGE and Pacific Power’s combined allotment, other policy changes made include increasing the discount from 20% to 40% for low-income customers, reducing the bill credit for participating non-residential customers to 90% of the customer’s retail rate, adding an annual 2% escalator on the bill credit rate to support subscribing more residential customers and to reflect expectations that retail electricity rates will increase over time, and retaining the 25% carve-out for community-based projects, to ensure that smaller, more innovative projects and projects managed by local non-profit organizations have an opportunity to participate.

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