BayWa r.e. Solar Projects LLC, a renewable energy developer and services provider, has completed the construction of the 133.6 MW DC Fern Solar project in Edgecombe County, N.C. Fern is the largest project developed and built to date by BayWa r.e. in the U.S.
Featuring more than 353,000 high-performance photovoltaic panels, the 133.6 MW DC power plant will produce an estimated 238 GWh of clean electricity annually. The project created some 500 construction and related jobs, and will generate tens of thousands of dollars in property taxes annually for Edgecombe County over the lifetime of the plant.
“Fern Solar is our largest solar project built to date in the U.S., but it is more than a milestone renewable project – it’s a story about how companies and people can come together to move the needle forward,” says Jam Attari, CEO of BayWa r.e. Solar Projects. “The world is rapidly transitioning to clean energy, and we’ll get there faster when we innovate together.”
BayWa r.e is partnering on a solar job training program with the Center for Energy Education (C4EE) in North Carolina. The training targets residents who are unemployed or underemployed, and needing a second chance. Graduates of the program include military veterans seeking work in the solar industry. C4EE graduates earn first consideration for hire at local solar project sites. After graduation, each student receives an OSHA 10 certification card, safety equipment and a certificate of course completion. The company will continue to work with local communities to further develop and expand future programs.
The Fern project benefits from pioneering virtual power purchase agreements (VPPAs), including a first-of-its-kind agreement that brings together five companies separately contracting similar portions of the plant’s power generation. Facilitated by LevelTen Energy, the VPPA brought together an anchor tenant group of Bloomberg, Cox Enterprises, Gap Inc., Salesforce and Workday to form a Corporate Renewable Energy Aggregation Group, which will purchase the output of 42.5 MW of the plant’s installed generating capacity. Starbucks entered into a separate VPPA for 46 MW.
The project will be added to BayWa r.e.’s operating portfolio. The company secured tax equity from RBC Capital Markets, which syndicated an investment commitment – and secured construction and permanent debt from Rabobank and Banco Sabadell.