AEA Invests in Houston Solar Farm
Construction began in August at the site in Houston of a 45-acre solar farm.
The board of the Alaska Energy Authority (AEA) approved a $4.9 million loan toward construction of an 8.5 MW solar array in Houston, which would be the largest utility-scale solar farm in Alaska.
The project is being developed by Energy 49, a spinoff of Renewable IPP, which owns and operates a solar farm in Willow. At 1.2 MW, the Willow facility was the largest solar array in the state when it was built in 2018. The Houston project, which began construction this fall, will cover 45 acres with ballasted bi-facial photovoltaic panels, providing enough electricity for approximately 1,400 homes. Matanuska Electric Association has committed to purchasing all energy generated at the solar farm.
The financing from AEA comes from its Power Project Fund (PPF).
“AEA is excited to work with the Renewable IPP team again to provide them with the additional capital needed to make this project a reality,” says AEA Executive Director Curtis W. Thayer. “The PPF loan program is an attractive, patient capital funding mechanism that can be leveraged to diversify Alaska’s energy sources and introduce additional renewable energy on the Railbelt.”
The balance of equity financing comes from CleanCapital, a New York-based clean-energy investment platform, which will be the owner/operator of the project. Owing to Renewable IPP’s technical and operational experience in Alaska, that company will be under contract with CleanCapital to perform all construction and continuing operations and maintenance.
“We’re thrilled by the state’s instrumental support to bring cost-competitive renewable energy to Alaskans,” says Renewable IPP CEO Jenn Miller. “With this announcement, the state is taking real steps to diversify our energy supply and spur economic growth.”
Renewable IPP began working with CleanCapital in 2020 when they were connected by Launch Alaska, a local nonprofit that works to accelerate clean energy projects.
The maintenance of the Houston solar facility is expected to employ about fifteen to twenty part-time workers.