June 13, 2018 Read More →

U.S. solar prices fall to record low on Arizona deal

Greentech Media:

Records don’t last long in the cleantech business.

Just days ago, we were reporting that the Central Arizona Project (CAP) had secured the lowest confirmed solar price in the U.S., when it approved a 20-year power-purchase agreement at $24.99 per megawatt-hour. That’s setting aside an Austin Energy PPA from December that could be lower, but has more ambiguous terms.

That Arizona record is already under threat from projects that utility NV Energy selected as part of its integrated resource planning. The portfolio of 1,001 megawatts of solar capacity and 100 megawatts/400 megawatt-hours of energy storage still needs approval from Nevada’s utility regulators. If that happens, the lowest confirmed U.S. solar price would be Sempra Renewables’ Copper Mountain Solar 5 project at $21.55 per megawatt-hour. That 250-megawatt project, though, has a 2.5 percent annual escalation as part of its 25-year contract, so the low upfront price wouldn’t last.

Instead, we can turn to 8minutenergy’s 300-megawatt Eagle Shadow Mountain Solar Farm, which clocks in at a flat rate of $23.76 per megawatt-hour throughout its 25-year PPA term. That comfortably beats the CAP project on pricing, while delivering 10 times the capacity. It also marks a substantial improvement on the $29.50 per megawatt-hour median pricing for standalone solar PV in Xcel’s famous solicitation six months ago.

The groundbreaking pricing was achieved through sophisticated design and engineering, but also reflects how far solar equipment and installation practices have come, 8minutenergy CEO and founder Martin Hermann wrote in an email. “Eagle Shadow Mountain is unique because it’s located in an area of great solar irradiance and with remarkable access to transmission assets,” he said. “We are able to benefit from low interconnection costs, for example, by utilizing transmission assets that had previously been allocated for the Reid Gardner coal plant, ensuring that those assets are not stranded.”

More: Nevada’s 2.3-cent bid beats Arizona’s record-low solar PPA price

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