US ROUND-UP: BlackRock acquires C&I solar developer, Cypress Creek finances 1.6GW portfolio

Image: Cypress Creek.

A round-up of the latest news from the US PV sector, as BlackRock acquires Distributed Solar Development, Cypress Creek closes US$200m of financing and Vanderbilt University moves towards 100% renewables. 


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BlackRock acquires remaining interest in C&I solar developer

11 November 2020: BlackRock Real Assets has acquired the remaining 20% stake in US commercial and industrial PV developer Distributed Solar Development (DSD) from GE Renewable Energy.

Following the purchase of an initial 80% interest in DSD last year, BlackRock now plans to expand the platform’s footprint and enable it to deploy more than 200MW of renewable energy annually as of 2021.

Launched as a start-up within General Electric, DSD seeks to make solar more accessible to commercial, industrial and municipal organisations “by providing a one-stop shop” for PV and energy storage solutions. The company secured US250 million in financing last year to fund its growth in 2020.

The acquisition was carried out through BlackRock’s Global Renewable Power II Fund, which has 16 investments across more than 150 solar and wind projects in North America, Europe and Asia.


Cypress Creek secures debt financing for 1.6GW solar portfolio

10 November 2020: Cypress Creek Renewables has closed a seven-year debt financing for the holding company that owns its 1.6GW portfolio of operating solar projects.

The US$200 million facility finances a portfolio consisting of more than 200 solar and storage facilities in 13 US states.

Cypress Creek CFO Rebecca Cranna said the debt facility “marks a key milestone” in the company’s growth, providing it with the “flexibility to own assets where we see strategic value”.

Investec acted as sole bookrunner and coordinating lead arranger, while other joint lead arrangers included Crédit Agricole, East West Bank and Silicon Valley Bank.

The deal comes weeks after Cypress Creek completed a tax equity buyout and refinancing of project-level debt for 92MW of solar in North Carolina.


Tennessee university on track for 100% renewables thanks to new PV project

10 November 2020: Vanderbilt University in Tennessee is set to reach 100% renewable energy for its campus operations after subscribing to a 25MW portion of a new 125MW utility-scale solar farm set to be developed in the state.

The Metropolitan Government of Nashville said it will purchase the remaining 100MW through a collaboration that includes utilities Nashville Electric Service and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).

On the behalf of Vanderbilt University and the local government, TVA will contract with independent power producer Silicon Ranch Corporation to develop a solar facility in Tullahoma. Silicon Ranch was selected through TVA’s recent procurement process for the construction of up to 200MW of PV on the Tullahoma site.

A 20-year power purchase will see more than one-third of Nashville's metropolitan government operations powered by renewable energy.

“We hope this groundbreaking partnership between government, business and universities will be a model of innovative collaboration to address the most important issues of our time,” said Daniel Diermeier, chancellor of Vanderbilt University.


Black & Veatch appoints new global renewable energy unit chief

11 November 2020: Engineering and construction firm Black & Veatch has appointed Dave Hallowell to lead its global renewable energy business.

The company said Hallowell’s 28 years of experience, including leading its telecommunications public networks business for the past six years, positions him well for the role. He has previously served as a project director, construction and operations manager and a design engineer for projects in telecoms and power.

“As more utilities and developers rethink their power generation mix and adapt to the economic and environmental merits of renewables combined with energy storage, Dave’s experience adds to our depth of expertise in renewables,” Mario Azar, president of Black & Veatch’s power business, said.

Kansas-headquartered Black & Veatch has to date supported the development of more than 105GW of solar and wind energy.

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