SCE Solar Rooftop Project awards and Solyndra too

SCE said the response to the solar photovoltaic (PV) solicitation was “large” though they did not disclose the number of offers received.

SCESPVP-IPPmap-contracts Southern California Edison (SCE), an Edison International (NYSE:EIX) company, awarded 36 contracts for about 59.6 MegaWatts (MW) of solar photovoltaic (PV) projects to Independent Power Producers (IPP) last week. Approved by the California Public Utilities Commission (“CPUC APPROVES EDISON SOLAR ROOF PROGRAM”) in 2009, 250 MW of the 500 MW program will be installed, owned, and operated by IPPs chosen via a competitive bid process over a period of five years.

Despite the Solar Rooftop Project (SPVP-IPP) name, the program allows up to 10% of the 250 MW to be ground mounted while focusing on 1 to 2 MW DC rooftop PV. Systems sized between 500 kW (kiloWatt) and 10 MW DC located in the SCE service territory are acceptable and governed by a 20 year PPA (Power Purchase Agreement) with a $0.19250 per kWh (kiloWatt-hour) offer price cap before application of TOU (Time Of Use) factors. Only an actual project developer will find the 2010 Solar PV RFO Conference presentation from April lacking in detail.

The 31 rooftop PV projects chosen total 37.2 MW ranging from 560 kW to 2.51 MW both by coincidence awarded to Photon Solar LLC, the surprise Solyndra, Inc. wholly owned subsidiary. The five (5) ground mounted PV projects selected total almost 22.4 MW ranging from 2.27 MW (Solar Electric Solutions LLC) to the largest at 10 MW by Axio Power Inc. via Cascade Solar LLC. Ground mounted PV projects represented 37.6% of the awards and almost 9% of the entire 250 MW program just a percentage point shy of the ground mounted cap.

Adding the parent company information, I’ve simplified and sorted the SCE provided table by the estimated online date for each project as shown below.

Company Name
* denotes ground mount install
Project location Estimated Online Date Project size (MWDC)
Industry Metrolink PV 1, LLC
(City of Industry)
City of Industry Dec 1, 2010 2
Advanced Solar Integration Technologies, LLC Commerce Jan 28, 2011 1.2
Photon Solar LLC (Solyndra, Inc.) Rancho Cucamonga Jan 31, 2011 1.26
Photon Solar LLC (Solyndra, Inc.) Ontario Jan 31, 2011 0.66
Photon Solar LLC (Solyndra, Inc.) Ontario Jan 31, 2011 0.56
Photon Solar LLC (Solyndra, Inc.) Ontario Jan 31, 2011 0.58
Photon Solar LLC (Solyndra, Inc.) Chino Jan 31, 2011 0.7
Photon Solar LLC (Solyndra, Inc.) Rancho Cucamonga Feb 28, 2011 0.89
Photon Solar LLC (Solyndra, Inc.) Rancho Cucamonga Mar 31, 2011 1.61
Photon Solar LLC (Solyndra, Inc.) Los Angeles Mar 31, 2011 1.7
Photon Solar LLC (Solyndra, Inc.) Buena Park Mar 31, 2011 2.51
(Solar Electric Solutions LLC)
Palmdale Mar 31, 2011 2.27
(Solar Electric Solutions LLC)
Twentynine Palms Mar 31, 2011 2.32
Golden Solar, LLC Santa Fe Springs Apr 1, 2011 1.43
Golden Solar, LLC Santa Fe Springs Apr 1, 2011 1.34
Tioga Solar XIX, LLC
(Tioga Energy, Inc.)
City of Industry Apr 15, 2011 0.75
Photon Solar LLC (Solyndra, Inc.) La Mirada Apr 30, 2011 1.1
Photon Solar LLC (Solyndra, Inc.) La Mirada Apr 30, 2011 1.02
Photon Solar LLC (Solyndra, Inc.) Foothill Ranch Apr 30, 2011 1.39
Photon Solar LLC (Solyndra, Inc.) Lake Forest Apr 30, 2011 0.94
Photon Solar LLC (Solyndra, Inc.) Compton Apr 30, 2011 0.66
Photon Solar LLC (Solyndra, Inc.) City of Industry Apr 30, 2011 0.59
Solar Power, Inc.* Palm Springs Sep 15, 2011 2.83
Greenpower Williams LLC
(Talbert Development, Inc.)
Valencia Oct 1, 2011 1.3
SS San Antonio West LLC
(Samsung America, Inc.)
Chino Oct 1, 2011 1.86
Solar Power, Inc.* Palm Springs Dec 15, 2011 4.96
Cascade Solar LLC*
(Axio Power Inc.)
Joshua Tree Dec 15, 2011 10
SunEdison Utility Solutions, LLC Mira Loma Jan 25, 2012 1.2
SunEdison Utility Solutions, LLC Ontario Jan 25, 2012 1.54
SunEdison Utility Solutions, LLC Ontario Jan 25, 2012 1.46
SunEdison Utility Solutions, LLC Corona Jan 25, 2012 1.13
SunEdison Utility Solutions, LLC Rialto Jan 25, 2012 1.19
SunEdison Utility Solutions, LLC Santa Fe Springs Jan 25, 2012 0.81
SunEdison Utility Solutions, LLC Pomona Jan 25, 2012 1.25
SunEdison Utility Solutions, LLC San Bernardino Jan 25, 2012 1.42
SunEdison Utility Solutions, LLC Fontana Jan 25, 2012 1.17

A quick look reveals 22 PV projects are expected to be online by the end of April 2011, and the balance are skewed towards December 2011 and January 2012 including the two largest ground mount projects. All nine of SunEdison’s rooftop projects totaling 11.2 MW are estimated to be online January 2012, perhaps to game expected PV module overcapacity and annual Feed-in Tariff degressions in the offers? Projects must be online within 18 months of CPUC approval. SCE expects to submit Final Agreements seeking CPUC Approval around September 24, 2010.

After reading “
Distributed celebration: Solyndra unit scores biggest chunk of PPAs for SCE rooftop PV plan” by Tom Cheyney at, I was curious how Solyndra secured 15 (Solyndra claims 18?) rooftop PV projects or almost 16.2 MW. Per my discussion with SCE, “bids found to be best for our customers were selected”. In the RFO (Request for Offers) presentation:

SCE will evaluate and select Binding Offers from eligible Offerors based on the following factors:

  • The five-year 250 MW DC capacity goal
  • The limitation that no more than 10% of the overall program capacity will be ground-mounted
  • Binding Product Price – ranked and selected based on $/MWh AC
    • Binding Offers with a lower Product Price will be accepted before Binding Offers with a higher Product Price
    • Under no circumstances will SCE accept a Binding Offer with a Binding Product Price greater than $192.50/MWh AC

So in the end, once factors such as location, demand profiles, supply/demand balance, and many others were considered, bids were ranked by the PPA kWh price. Recent reserved reservations using Solyndra panels at the California Solar Statistics website for 377 kW and 302 kW system capacities have installed prices of $4.96 and $5.61 per Watt (DC Nameplate Rating) respectively. My assumption is Solyndra bid the projects using forward pricing based on the three and six month ramp of the new factory. By creating a wholly owned subsidiary to win the contracts, Solyndra must and may have preferred to keep their PPA offers confidential from their Solution Provider network.

To Solyndra’s credit, maybe their panels are estimated to deliver higher energy yields complemented by the TOU rates? Or Solyndra found lower cost deployment locations based on their unique panel design custom tailored for commercial rooftops? Also, Solyndra appears to have bundled or aggregated facility locations to simplify interconnection and installation.

I had a number of questions for Solyndra which have gone unanswered.

How will Solyndra account for the sales though the wholly owned subsidiary?
Will the sale be recognized as power is delivered over the life of the PPA?
Does Solyndra intend to be in the power business or will you look to sell the projects once completed?
What is your bankability story in the U.S.? Which U.S. banks in particular consider Solyndra panels bankable?

Overall, the SCE SPVP-IPP has a superior program design compared to the PG&E Solar PV Program PPA covered in PG&E Solar PV Program PPA awaits final CPUC nod with the emphasis on PV deployments on underutilized warehouse and commercial rooftops with limited onsite loads. Under current California development and regulatory regimes, these rooftops would never be filled with PV systems.

And Samsung America notched another U.S. utility scale solar contract for a 1.86 MW rooftop PV system located in Chino, California.

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