Last March, the PEC Board of Directors approved a Distributed Solar Strategy Resolution which gave management the green light to proceed with discussions and negotiations with project stakeholders and to present a specific plan for the board to consider.
PEC’s all member survey published in that same month showed that 77% of members strongly agreed or agreed that PEC should “meet my electricity needs through a mix of energy efficiency, renewable energy and traditional sources.
Yesterday, December 7, the board unanimously approved a plan that will provide members with competitive (and non -member-subsidized) solar generation options. The board passed a staff recommended resolution that read in part:
…”whereas PEC wishes to develop and acquire electric capacity, energy and other related products from renewable solar photovoltaic distributed generation within the Cooperative’s service territory…the Cooperative is authorized to negotiate and prepare project agreements, lease agreements, interconnection agreements and power purchase agreements with third party providers or members, confirmations, certificates or other instruments necessary or appropriate to develop and acquire electric capacity, energy and other related products from up to 15 MW of renewable solar photovoltaic distributed generation…”
In PEC world, this is a big deal.
The upshot is that PEC will negotiate with competitive solar sites/systems already located with the PEC distribution service territory. These sites may be provided by PEC, members, developers or other third parties. PEC will seek competitive pricing for systems under 1MW, aggregating to 5, 10 or 15MW. PEC will seek ownership structures that take advantage of the Investment Tax Credit and with a capability to complete projects by December 2016. By utilizing distributed projects within the PEC territory, congestion costs and other fees are avoided.
In November, 2015, PEC issued a public RFI seeking information for competitive pricing and has received 19 responses–including some with very competitive pricing. PEC is moving forward with several respondents for further negotiation.
This is a conservative plan but it puts PEC and its members squarely in the renewable (solar) energy business. It is a plan that even a renewable energy naysayer can like. It will use a combination of community solar projects and key account projects to obtain an economy of scale pricing.
In recent years the cost of solar has been competitive to carbon based energy including oil and natural gas. Utilizing scale to reach 5-15 MW with a 25-year term is critical to achieving a competitive, low cost outcome.
It is anticipated that PEC will soon provide its members with further details on what the impact of this resolution means to them and how they may benefit.