SolarCity, others develop 13 MW of solar capacity in Connecticut

Connecticut Municipal Electric Energy Cooperative (CMEEC), SolarCity (NASDAQ: SCTY) and Brightfields Development LLC announced May 5 the development of 13 MW (ac) of solar power systems and at least 1.5 MW (6.0 megawatt hours) of energy storage systems located in southern Connecticut.

CMEEC will use this solar and stored energy to provide a cleaner and more resilient power infrastructure for its municipal utility members and wholesale electric customers. CMEEC’s member utilities serve more than 70,000 homes and businesses in six Connecticut communities as well as multiple communities in Massachusetts.

SolarCity and its development partner Brightfields have begun work on seven solar project sites which will comprise nearly 57,000 panels. The sites are located in Bozrah (off of Brush Hill Road), in Norwich (on a portion of the Mountain Ash Farm and also on the city’s former landfills located at Rogers Road), and in Groton (on open land provided by Northeast Housing LLC, adjacent to a Navy Submarine Base).

The energy storage solution installed at Mountain Ash Farm represents SolarCity’s first capacity services project, whereby the company will provide engineering, installation, and maintenance of a battery storage system that CMEEC can control using SolarCity’s proprietary GridLogic control platform. Through GridLogic, CMEEC will be able to remotely and instantaneously dispatch stored solar energy to manage load spikes and optimize the operational performance of the distribution system.

“These systems utilize leading edge technology that is both powerful and fiscally responsible,” said Drew Rankin, CMEEC’s Chief Executive Officer. “With these solar and storage projects, we are pleased to join SolarCity at the forefront of energy innovation.”

Under the terms of the 20‐year solar power purchase agreements, SolarCity and its financing partners will build, own and operate the solar power systems while CMEEC won’t have the burden of a more traditional asset ownership structure. The storage solutions will be financed by SolarCity, allowing CMEEC to pay a fixed rate to utilize the battery storage system that will lower operating costs and provide savings for its customers.

“The advanced solutions we’re providing CMEEC today comprise the benefits of years of energy storage research and technology development,” said Peter Rive, SolarCity’s Chief Technology Officer. “Our GridLogic control platform integrates dispatachable solar power and energy storage to provide cost‐effective capacity, and additional stability to utilities and cooperatives like CMEEC and its customers. We’re honored to implement this groundbreaking project as an example for the future.”

Brightfields Development worked in partnership with SolarCity to secure sites for the solar and storage projects and coordinate permitting, development and design work.

“We are proud of the development work Brightfields is doing in partnership with CMEEC and SolarCity, and we look forward to the successful completion of this portfolio,” said John Hanselman, Principal and Founder of Brightfields Development.

The CMEEC projects are already underway, with the Mountain Ash Farm solar and storage project expected to be online by the end of June 2016, and the entire portfolio expected to be completed and operational by December 2016.

CMEEC is owned and governed by six member utilities:  the cities of Groton and Norwich, the borough of Jewett City, the town of Bozrah, and the Second (South Norwalk) and Third (East Norwalk) Taxing Districts of Norwalk, Connecticut. CMEEC provides wholesale power and related requirements to member utilities as well as to the Mohegan Tribal Utility Authority and major electric customers in and beyond Connecticut.

SolarCity said it makes solar energy easy by taking care of everything from design and permitting to monitoring and maintenance.

Brightfields Development specializes in the development of solar energy projects on environmentally‐sensitive properties. Brightfields is currently developing projects in MA, CT, PR, VT, NC and IL.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.