On May 14, 2010, Salt Lake County, Utah will be releasing a Request for Proposals (“RFP”) for a 1 MW solar project. If your company is interested in receiving the RFP as soon as it is released, you should register with BidSync (registration is free).
About the Solar Project:
It is anticipated that the initial solar project will include three County facilities (Salt Palace Convention Center, Environmental Health, and the Riverton Senior Center) with solar installations totaling approximately 1 MW. This solar project will utilize a power purchase agreement (“PPA”) financing model. It will also employ public and private capital, Federal grants, and public/private subsidized bonds that are able to work together efficiently because of the recent Stimulus Bill. The project also makes use of recent changes to Federal tax rules, and the recent re-awakening of private capital markets that make a significant public-private partnership possible. The County is working to coordinate these financial resources to make them easily accessible. More details will be available in the RFP. Longer term, Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon has set a goal to install 10 MW of solar on as many county-owned facilities as possible.
PPAs and Third-Party Financing Now an Option in Utah:
In 2010, with the passage of HB 145 – Renewable Energy Financing Provisions, Utah enabled third-party financing of renewable energy systems for the following entities: a county, municipality, city, town, other political subdivision, local district, special service district, state institution of higher education, school district, charter school, or any entity within the state system of public education; an entity qualifying as a charitable organization under 26 U.S.C. Sec. 501(c)(3) operated for religious, charitable, or educational purposes that is exempt from federal income tax and able to demonstrate its tax-exempt status. Significantly, this recent legislation clarified that certain third-party financing arrangements are exempt from regulation by the Utah Public Service Commission, which is consistent with how these arrangements are viewed in several other states across the country. This clarification will now open the door for more innovative financing for renewable energy technologies, which has the ability to remove the upfront cost hurdles of capital intensive investments and offer an attractive bundle of services, including: design, installation, financing (including monetizing tax benefits), permitting and interconnection, maintenance, etc.