Lightsource bp raises financing for 368 MW pollinator and bird-friendly projects

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Lightsource bp has closed on a $460 million project financing package for the construction of a 368 MW utility-scale solar portfolio comprised of two projects in Indiana and Louisiana.

The portfolio consists of:

  • Honeysuckle Solar (188 MW) – Located in St. Joseph County, Ind., the project is secured by a long-term power purchase agreement with AEP Energy Partners, a retail energy arm of utility American Electric Power. Inovateus Solar is the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor for Honeysuckle Solar, which is set for completion in 2024.
  • Prairie Ronde Solar (180 MW) – Located in St. Landry Parish, La., the utility project is secured by a long-term power purchase agreement with fast food giant McDonalds. LPL Solar is the EPC contractor for Prairie Ronde, which is also on track for completion in 2024.

Nearly 800,000 U.S.-manufactured First Solar panels and solar trackers from Array Technologies, also U.S.-made, will be used on both new projects.

“By leveraging domestic content incentives offered in the Inflation Reduction Act, both the Honeysuckle and Prairie Ronde solar projects provide exciting examples of the IRA’s benefits in real action,” said Kevin Smith, chief executive officer of the Americas, Lightsource bp. “With the right policies, we can boost made-in-America products, create jobs and reduce our nation’s foreign dependence.”

Collectively, the projects will abate more than 235,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year, the equivalent of taking about 85,000 oil and gas-burning cars off the road.

Honeysuckle and Praire Ronde Solar have created 450 construction phase jobs, with the energy company focused on recruiting from local labor pools.

Lightsource bp arranged the new project debt financing from Bank of America, ING Capital, Lloyds Banking Group, NatWest and Societe Generale. Over the last four years, Lightsource bp has raised over $3.7 billion in project financing for solar projects in 11 states from the lenders, among other financial institutions.

Pollinator-friendly solar

The two utility solar projects will also participate in lightsource bp’s “Responsible Solar” ethos, which encourages project development in conjunction with agrivoltaics practices, which combine solar generation with agriculture use case.

In St. Joseph County, Indiana, Honeysuckle becomes one of the first participants in the Bee & Butterfly Habitat Fund’s new “Solar Synergy” program, fostering habitat for bee and butterfly pollinators across the site.

The Indiana program provides  tools and expertise to utility-scale solar developers seeking to cultivate high-quality pollinator habitats at their projects. Some of the benefits of this program include:

  • Providing seed mixtures designed to provide high-value food and shelter for pollinators, while meeting the solar industry’s unique needs as well
  • Monitoring the health of pollinator populations at the solar farm during operations
  • On-site vegetation studies to help pull atmospheric carbon into the soil for long-term sequestration
  • Connecting solar developers with opportunities for commercial honey production

“The greater the diversity you have in there, the more pollinator species and the more benefits you’ll be able to impact,” said Pete Berthelsen, executive director of the Bee & Butterfly Habitat Fund.

On site, a first mix of wildflower plants will grow beneath rows of solar panels across the entire project, containing 25 species of grasses and flowering plants. A second plant mix, which will grow into what’s called a “high-density” pollinator garden, will be seeded on more than 20 acres around the solar site perimeter and contain more than 50 species of plants.

Additional information on Honeysuckle Solar’s pollinator program, including a video clip on honey production from solar sites, can be found here and below.

Meanwhile, at Prairie Ronde, Lightsource is making plans to restore coastal prairie habitat and also provide nesting grounds for Eastern Bluebirds. A long-term Land Management and Biodiversity plan will establish habitats to increase biodiversity through creation of pollinator habitat and natural undergrowth below the panels to  manage water runoff and drainage at the St. Landry Parish, Louisiana project site.

Lightsource bp has a pipeline of projects under development in Indiana and Louisiana. In the Hoosier State, the company built the 173 MW Bellflower Solar project near Indianapolis in March 2023. In the Pelican State, lightsource is also developing the 345 MW Oxbow Solar (fka Ventress Solar) project with LPL Solar serving as the contractor.

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