7X Energy Inc., a Texas-based utility-scale solar development company, has announced the availability of SolarBlocks, a block-and-index power purchasing product through which the blocks of energy are generated by a greenfield solar plant developed by 7X Energy. Traditionally, the company says, blocks are supplied by a variety of generation sources on an energy buyer’s local grid.
According to 7X Energy, SolarBlocks is designed for commercial and industrial (C&I) energy buyers in Independent System Operator (ISO) markets with retail choice that want to procure some of their energy from renewable sources, but seek more flexibility than a traditional 20-year, fixed-price power purchase agreement (PPA) allows.
A block-and-index power-purchasing strategy balances stability and flexibility, says 7X Energy. A portion of a buyer’s energy needs – represented by blocks, or in this case a specified amount of energy generated by solar – is locked-in at a low, fixed rate over a contract term as short as eight years. Any additional or off-peak usage is procured from a customer’s retail energy provider through the wholesale market either at indexed real-time prices or through additional short-term block purchases.
“This strategy works exceptionally well for corporate buyers,” says Clay Butler, president and CEO of 7X Energy. “Companies typically consume the most energy during the day, when solar is the least-expensive energy available. At off-peak times, when solar is unavailable, wholesale pricing can be competitive. It’s the best of both worlds.”
7X Energy claims SolarBlocks provides a familiar energy procurement experience that allows companies to continue working with their current energy retailer while enjoying the benefits of buying solar energy.
“Companies told us that they want to simplify how they procure renewable energy,” says Butler. “Many companies are accustomed to purchasing power through an energy retailer, and SolarBlocks supports that model. The retailers can work with corporations to determine the right amounts of energy to procure through blocks and the wholesale market to reduce their energy spend and mitigate risks from fuel pricing volatility. Customers will continue their billing arrangements with their preferred retailer.”
Furthermore, because the solar facilities that 7X Energy will build for SolarBlocks customers represent new construction, 7X Energy says companies can claim additionality and receive renewable energy certificates (RECs).
“SolarBlocks is a compelling alternative to a traditional PPA and a win all around for companies. It offers companies a new option for procuring energy that helps them meet their sustainability goals, reduce costs and mitigate risks,” says Butler.
Graphic courtesy of 7X Energy: An example of using blocks of solar in conjunction with wholesale blocks and wholesale index purchases to minimize energy costs and mitigate risks.