SRE and HASI to build 250MW community solar projects in Illinois and Maryland

A rooftop community solar project from Summit Ridge in Maryland. Image: Summit Ridge Energy.

US community solar company Summit Ridge Energy (SRE) and Maryland-based investment firm HASI have agreed to build, own and operate a 250MW community solar portfolio in the states of Illinois and Maryland.

HASI will provide funding for the projects over the next two years, and while SRE will own the projects following their completion, the company is expected to allow local communities to use the power generated at the projects for their own ends.

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While neither HASI nor SRE specified the investment required for the projects, both companies have already demonstrated their commitment to the community solar sector. In 2019, HASI and SRE announced plans to develop 250MW of new community solar capacity across multiple states, including Maryland, and the latest announcement will effectively double the community solar capacity owned by the two firms.

“We are delighted to deepen our partnership with SRE,” said Susan Nickey, HASI chief client officer. “This latest transaction underscores our commitment to delivering scalable and repeatable transactions to our clients as they seize the tremendous opportunity of the energy transition.”

The companies also noted that the new projects will benefit from the emphasis on US-based solar manufacturing introduced by the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). Some of the panels for the new projects will be supplied by QCells North America, the North American subsidiary of German solar developer PVQ SE, and the announcement of the new projects follows SRE and QCells signing a module supply deal earlier this year.

In April, SRE purchased 1.2GW of solar modules from QCells, which supplied the panels from a manufacturing facility in the US state of Georgia, and the successful development of a community solar project in the US, using modules manufactured domestically, could demonstrate the potential of the IRA.

Such a development would also be a positive sign for the US community solar sector. In February, Wood Mackenzie and the Coalition for Community Solar Access published a report into the sector, which concluded that US community solar deployment could more than double over the next five years as a result of IRA support for new projects, and the HASI-SRE projects could demonstrate this capacity for growth.

“This expanded partnership doubles the size of the SRE solar portfolio supported by HASI,” said SRE CEO Steve Raeder. “The deal is a mark of SRE’s leadership in commercial solar and ability to execute in a challenging economic environment.”

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