As I just wrote a few moments ago, people love solar, but they especially love solar projects that don’t come with wildlife concerns and aren’t too imposing. Smaller-scale projects are also easier to locate and easier and quicker to get built without running into various regulatory or mitigation hurdles. One solar company has taken all that to note, quite seriously, and is building its business around “small-scale” rather than “utility-scale” solar projects. And it seems to be doing quite well for itself.
The company, Silverado Power, has been granted 355 megawatts worth of solar projects in the Southwest, where it is focused, and expects to have approximately 500 megawatts more in the pipeline soon.
“Silverado Power has 16,000 acres of land under site control and approximately three gigawatts of interconnection positions allotted to it across the U.S., largely in the Southwest,” Herman Trabish of Greentech Media writes. “It has been granted 355 megawatts of use permits in the region and expects to soon have some 500 megawatts more.”
In 2010, SCE awarded it 100 megawatts worth of power purchase agreements (PPAs) for under-20-megawatt projects.
Aside from its projects being relatively small, the company gets in touch with the communities it wants to work with early to identify the best sites for its projects.
Silverado Company History
Silverado Power has some experienced solar power players on its team—it was founded by former executives of Recurrent Energy and Renewable Ventures (just in 2010). And the company “is backed by Portugal’s Martifer Solar, which has recently been installing solar at the rate of 100 megawatts a year, according to Silverado Manager of Business Development Chris Wiedemann.”
Here’s more on Silverado’s strategy and where it developed from:
Antelope Valley was one of the company’s first targets, Wiedemann said. But the company was aware of the mitigation controversies swirling around Antelope Valley Solar Ranch One, the 230-megawatt photovoltaic undertaking First Solar bought from NextLight in 2009 and is now building for Exelon, which it sold to last year.
Drawing on the experience of “other players in the community who have had varying response to community outreach,” Wiedemann said, Silverado chose to aim for smaller, lower-profile projects. “Our focus in that region is between five and 20 megawatts” and is “interconnection-driven,” he continued.
Avoiding Community Controversy
Essentially, Wiedemann notes, its approach “takes the controversial issues out of the picture.” I’m all for it, and a bit surprised we don’t hear of more companies taking this approach.
“Our hope is to maintain a strong relationship with the local groups and interests,” he says. “What we hope will not happen is being [viewed as] guilty by association with some of these other projects that are sited in less optimal areas. That’s the larger risk. Our process and our siting strategy will hopefully prevail: Smaller projects, lower profile and siting away from sensitive biological and cultural resources and local landmarks.”
Source: Greentech Media | Silverado solar power project via Silverado Power
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