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Financing for solar farm is delayed

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This article was a sidebar in the print edition to an article about wind power in the May 10, 2012 edition of the News.

Financing for a Village solar farm is taking longer than expected, raising uncertainty about when, or whether, the local project will be built.

Last year the Village contracted with SolarVision to finance, build, own and maintain a 15-acre, 2.5-megawatt solar array on the Village-owned Glass Farm. Now the Westerville, Ohio company is struggling to raise the estimated $9 million to $11 million to construct the array, according to Mike Dickman, vice president of SolarVision.

“It’s taking much longer than we expected but we are still planning on doing it,” Dickman said this week.

SolarVision is raising $60 million to $80 million for its 10 Ohio solar projects totaling 20.5 megawatts. But each project “stands on its own,” according to Dickman, and the Yellow Springs solar farm will be one of the first to get financing because of the Village’s high bond rating.

One reason investors have also been slow to commit is because of a potential repeal of Ohio’s renewable energy portfolio standard, a provision that requires investor-owned utilities to produce 12.5 percent of their electricity with renewables by 2024, with annual benchmarks that can be met by purchasing renewable energy credits. Those credits incentivize renewable projects because they are highly attractive to investors.

“The [renewable energy credit] is a good portion of the deal and if the law changes then that’s definitely a problem,” Dickman said, adding that a change in the law is unlikely but still worries some investors.

In addition, last year’s bankruptcy of the California solar energy company Solyndra, which received a large federal loan guarantee, and recent controversies over the siting of Ohio wind farms have raised concerns among some investors, Dickman said.

Once complete, the solar farm would provide an estimated 10 percent of the Village’s electric consumption.


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