How Big Solar Power Projects Are Progressing in 2021

By FirmoGraphs Staff
Power Round Up December 2020 Power Lines Solar Power Panels

With 2021 nearly half over, we at Firmographs thought we’d look at some of the largest proposed solar generation projects whose developers wanted to start construction on them this year and see how they’re faring.

Sizes and Locations

We’re ranking their size not by generation capacity but by the reported or estimated project cost. We were going to use $250 million as a cut-off point but after a project with a value of $247.9 million, the project with the next highest value was $206 million, so going a few million dollars below $250 million made sense.

That gave us seven projects, only two of which are in states that, to people outside the solar industry, would be considered potential hotbeds of solar development. They are the Arroyo Solar & Storage Project that Clenera, LLC is developing in McKinley County, New Mexico, and the Bright Arrow Solar Project that RWE Renewables Americas, LLC is developing in Hopkins County, Texas.

Of the remaining five solar generation projects, one — Cavalier Solar A — is located in Virginia. The other four are in the Midwest — one each in Michigan and Wisconsin and two in Ohio, which is seeing both a lot of solar development and a backlash to it and wind farm development.

One of the Ohio projects could be affected by a bill recently signed by Gov. Mike DeWine that would require the developer of a solar or wind project to hold a public meeting in the county or counties where they plan to locate it prior to seeking approval for it from the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB). After the meeting was held, county commissioners could pass resolutions to ban the specific project detailed at it, ban all solar or wind projects in their county or create “energy development districts” that would be the only places in their county where solar and wind projects could be built. The other Ohio project would seem to be free and clear of the bill’s effects as it’s reportedly under construction.

As for the remaining five projects, the permitting processes on them appear to have been completed, and although the developers of two of them didn’t meet their target dates for starting construction, they haven’t yet pushed back the dates by which they expect the projects to be completed.

 

Projects and Details

Here are the projects, in decreasing order by value, along with summaries of what’s going on with them:

  • Fox Squirrel Solar Project — A 577 MW solar farm proposed for Madison County, Ohio, that we have valued at $583.3 million. Fox Squirrel is part of a pipeline of up to 4.5 GW of solar projects being developed by Geenex that EDF Renewables agreed to buy last October. The developer’s goal was to start construction on the project by Oct. 1 and finish it by the end of 2022, according to our review of public documents. The OPSB has yet to rule on the project, which could be derailed by the Ohio bill. 

  • Arroyo Solar & Storage — This is one of four solar and storage projects planned by Public Service Company of New Mexico to replace the capacity it gets from the coal-fired San Juan Generating station. We have the project’s solar component, which has a 300 MW generation capacity, valued at $309.9 million. Construction on it, the 150 MW storage component and the switchyard to interconnect them to the grid are scheduled to start this summer, according to the project’s website. We have construction on it slated to start this month and be finished next June, which is when the San Juan Generating Station is supposed to close. 

  • Yellowbud Solar Project — A 274 MW solar farm that National Grid Renewables is proposing to build in Ohio’s Ross and Pickaway counties, we have it valued at $282.5 million. The OPSB on Feb. 18 issued a certificate of environmental compatibility and public need for the project, but still lists its docket for the project as being open. Despite that, a March 12 article in The Scioto Post said construction was moving ahead on it, which was in line with the goal for beginning construction that we had in our database. If construction has started on the project, the bill signed by Gov. DeWine shouldn’t affect it. We have the goal for completing the project as the end of next year. 

  • Bright Arrow Solar — A 300 MW project that we have valued at $275 million, it’s being developed by RWE Renewables Americas, LLC. Construction on it was scheduled to start June 1 and be finished at the end of next year. It likely cleared its last regulatory hurdle in April when the Hopkins County Commissioners approved an agreement under which the county would take annual payments of $360,000 in lieu of taxes on the project for the first 10 years of its life and full tax payments on the project’s depreciated value for the rest of its 20-year lifespan. 

  • Mustang Mile Solar Energy Facility — A 150 MW project planned for Macon Township, Michigan. An executive with Consumers Energy, which is buying the project from Invenergy subsidiary Mustang Mile Energy LLC, said it was worth $495 million. Construction on it was originally planned to start Feb. 12 but did not, although the Macon Board of Trustees approved a special land-use permit for the project last month, so it should begin soon if it hasn’t already. A fact sheet on the project by Macon Township said it was expected to be operational by the end of 2022, which is what we have also, so the delay in starting work on it hasn’t yet affected the timetable for it. 

  • Grant County Solar Project — A 200 MW solar farm proposed for its namesake county in Wisconsin, it’s worth $250 million, according to our database, which lists the goal date for starting the project as October 1 of this year and the goal date for finishing it as the same day in 2023. It was approved by the Wisconsin Public Service Commission in late April, so it appears to be on track. NextEra is developing the project and will sell it to Alliant Energy once it’s operational. Pro-100899

  • Cavalier Solar A — This 240 MW solar farm planned for Surry and Isle of Wight counties in Virginia has a value of $247.9 million, according to our database. Its developer wanted to start construction on it by April 1, but Surry County’s board of supervisors didn’t approve it until May 6 and it wasn’t granted certificates of public convenience and necessity by the Virginia State Corporation Commission until May 27, so work on it is a little behind schedule. Still, finishing it by the end of 2022 remains the goal, both according to our database and AES, which owns part of sPower LLC, the company that owns the project’s developer, Cavalier Solar A LLC. 

How FirmoGraphs Can Help 

As you can see, getting solar generation projects and discerning the big pictures they paint is time-consuming work. Unfortunately, it’s the easy part of dealing with the documents. The tough part is converting the information they contain to data and sorting it in ways that help you find projects that your company pursues.  Our data is uniform and easily accessed in easy-to-use dashboards.  

If your company has an information technology department, you can have them do it, but that takes them away from other tasks. And if your company doesn’t have an IT department, you may wind up spending too much time reading PDFs, searching for potential leads like someone looking for buried treasure without a map. FirmoGraphs provides the map, so we’re urging you to feel free to request a meeting, and review the data live in the BI. 

Tags: solar, wind power, wind farm, solar farm developers, renewable portfolio standards

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