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Duke Energy acquires its largest solar project yet

By Kelsey Misbrener

Duke Energy Renewables is expanding its solar energy portfolio by acquiring the 200-MW Holstein solar project from 8minute Solar Energy. The project, located in Nolan County, Texas, will be the largest in Duke Energy Renewables’ fleet once complete.

“We’re pleased to add another Texas project to our growing renewables portfolio,” said Rob Caldwell, president of Duke Energy Renewables. “The state has some of the best solar resources in the nation, making it a cost-efficient way to meet the energy needs of Texans. Besides clean energy, the project will also bring significant economic benefits to the state.”

The Holstein solar project will be Duke Energy Renewables’ third solar project in Texas.

“There is no question in our mind that solar PV will be the dominant form of energy in Texas in the near future,” said Tom Buttgenbach, president and CEO of 8minute Solar Energy. “We’re proud to be working with Duke Energy and our other partners on this innovative project to deliver low-cost clean power to Texas’ residents and businesses.”

The 200-MW project will contain over 709,000 solar panels across approximately 1,300 acres in Wingate, Texas. Construction began in the summer of 2019 and is expected to be complete in the summer of 2020. The Holstein solar project will employ up to 400 workers during peak construction.

Duke Energy Renewables acquired the project from 8minute Solar Energy, a leading developer of utility-scale solar projects. 8minute Solar Energy led the development of the project and brought the EPC, O&M, hedge, tax equity and debt counterparties to the project.

Much of the energy generated from the Holstein solar project will be sold through a 12-year term hedge agreement to J. Aron & Company, a subsidiary of Goldman Sachs. This is the first Duke Energy Renewables solar project to use a hedge agreement.

SunTrust is providing a tax equity investment in the project. CIT Group and a consortium of banks are providing a construction loan, letter of credit and term loan facility for the project.

8minute Solar Energy engaged several advisory firms to close the transaction, including Snapper Creek Energy Advisors as the hedge advisor, CCA Capital providing tax equity and M&A advisory, and Norton Rose Fulbright, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe and Stahl, Davies, Sewell, Chavarria & Friend as legal counsel. The lenders were represented by Winston & Strawn, SunTrust was represented Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, and Duke Energy Renewables was represented by Troutman Sanders and Duggins Wren Mann & Romero.

The facility’s design, procurement of inverters, balance of plant systems and construction of the project are being performed by Blattner Energy. First Solar will provide O&M services for the project for five years beginning when the project has reached substantial completion, which is estimated to be in the summer of 2020.

Duke Energy is one of the nation’s top renewable energy providers — on track to own or purchase 8,000 megawatts of wind, solar and biomass energy by 2020.

News item from Duke Energy Renewables

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Source: Solar Power World