Community solar roundup: DOE community solar awards, Standard Solar buys 12MW, construction of Illinois portfolio

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One of the community solar projects completed by the Castillo and RECON in Illinois. Image: Castillo Engineering

A round up of the most recent community solar developments from the US, including a 12MW portfolio acquisition by Standard Solar from New Leaf Energy, construction plans for a 15MW cluster in Illinois and the winners of the Department of Energy’s community solar awards.

Standard solar buys 12MW community solar portfolio

Solar and energy storage developer Standard Solar has acquired a 12MW community solar portfolio from Massachusetts-headquartered developer New Leaf Energy for an undisclosed sum.

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Located in the towns of Chatham and Kilmarnock, Virginia, the portfolio represents three single-axis tracker-mounted projects forecast to produce around 19,800MWh of electricity annually. The two projects in Kilmarnock are exclusively allocated to LMI (low-to-moderate income) consumers.

“These community solar projects are more than just an important addition to our portfolio; they represent our unwavering commitment to expanding access to solar for all,” said Harry Benson, director of business development for Standard Solar. “By providing localised job opportunities and significant allocations for low- and moderate-income customers, these projects embody our vision of a cleaner, more equitable energy future.”

He continued: “Standard Solar firmly believes that the success of these projects will showcase the paramount importance of eliminating barriers to distributed generation, particularly through shared solar programs.”

Standard Solar is owned by alternative asset manager Brookfield Renewable.

Castillo Engineering and RECON Corporation in 15MW partnership

Solar design and engineering firm Castillo Engineering will construct a 15MW community solar portfolio in Illinois alongside engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) company RECON Corporation.

Construction on the five, 3MW sites will begin in Q4 2023 and the projects will all deploy solar trackers from Flexrack by Qcells and bifacial solar modules, though a supplier for these was not named.

“We selected Castillo Engineering for these projects due to their extensive community solar experience within Illinois,” said Scott Walker, president of RECON Corporation. Upon the completion of these projects, the two companies will have collaborated on over 60 community solar projects in Illinois, with over 200MW capacity according to Castillo.

DOE announces community solar award winners

The Department of Energy’s National Community Solar Partnership has awarded US$10,000 to five winners of its 2023 American-Made Sunny Awards for Equitable Community Solar.

The awards focus on community solar projects and programmes that provide “meaningful benefits” to communities, such as LMI consumer access, resilience and grid benefits, community ownership and equitable workforce development.

The Grand Prize winners were:

  • Illinois Solar For All – a programme from the Illinois Power Agency that currently supports 27MW of community solar capacity, 50% of which provides for over  1,200 LMI households.
  • Overcoming Solar Barriers for Multifamily Housing – a non-profit in Olympia, Washington, recognised for its success in delivering access to solar energy to 82 low- to moderate-income households, providing meaningful household savings, and for its use of community participation in project design. 
  • Prologis Community Solar – a 2.7MW community solar project in New Jersey.
  • Solar at Congregation Beth Elohim – a portfolio of three solar canopies built on a synagogue in Acton, Massachusetts by Sunwealth Power inc.
  • Staying Sunny in Colorado – A Denver, Colorado community solar project.

A US$5,000 dollar Meaningful Benefit award was also given to Co-op Solar: Owned by the People, a portfolio of two community solar projects owned by the Oregon Clean Power Cooperative. The project pairs solar with battery storage to supply power to two schools and a fire station.

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