The Sacramento Municipal Utility District signed multiple 20-year PPAs with Recurrent Energy for a portfolio of 16 contracts on four projects in the southern portion of Sacramento County. Recurrent Energy developed and constructed the solar projects at four locations near Galt, CA and Elk Grove, CA.
The agreements with SMUD, announced in 2010, demonstrate Recurrent Energy’s speed and expertise at adapting to diverse markets and programs. The four projects are some of the first to be awarded through the program utility’s feed-in tariff program (FIT) introduced in January 2010.
In December 2011, the PV project portfolio secured a significant investment from Google and SunTap Energy RE LLC (“SunTap”), a venture formed by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. L.P. (KKR) to invest in solar projects in the U.S. Construction began in mid-2011 and the first three projects came online in Winter 2011-12. The final project reached commercial operation in late 2012.
To reduce the impact on long-term planning, agricultural, and conservation concerns, Recurrent Energy’s siting efforts targeted land that had been growing lower-value crops and that was of little or no habitat value for protected species. This siting strategy has also enabled local landowners to leverage their lowest value land to diversify their agricultural income with 20 year fixed rental income backed by SMUD’s FIT credit. A further testament to solar’s compatibility with agricultural areas, the portfolio features combined solar and sheep grazing.
The SMUD portfolio of projects also benefits the region by reducing climate impacts of electrical generation. The portfolio generates enough in one year to power 17,525 average California homes, the equivalent of removing 21,312 cars from the road. These four projects contributed to SMUD becoming the first large California utility with at least 20 percent renewable energy in its overall power mix.