Project to support Middlebury College’s renewable energy goals
New York, NY, January 27, 2022 — Greenbacker Renewable Energy Company LLC (“GREC” or “Greenbacker”), a leading owner and operator of sustainable infrastructure and energy efficiency projects, announced today that, through a wholly owned subsidiary, it has purchased a 6.5-MWdc to-be-constructed solar project from Encore Renewable Energy (“Encore”), a preeminent integrated clean energy developer in the region. The South Street solar project, located in Middlebury, is now GREC’s largest solar asset in Vermont. Once completed, 100% of the clean energy South Street produces will be allocated to Middlebury College.
The South Street project can also contribute to a greener future—and lower energy bills—in ways beyond clean power generation. Green Mountain Power (South Street’s utility offtaker) intends to add onsite energy storage, which will make the project’s clean energy even more reliable and cost efficient.1 The pairing of solar plus storage can lower consumer power bills by deploying cheaper saved energy during periods of peak demand and emergencies. Additionally, rather than installing traditional turf grass, there are plans to plant the land amid the solar arrays with pasture mix for local livestock to graze and pollinator-friendly vegetation that supports native bee and butterfly populations. These lower-maintenance options can help reduce site operation costs, while at the same time promoting healthy ecosystems.
The project broke ground with a ceremony in October 2021 that began with a blessing from Chief Don Stevens of the Nulhegan Band of the Coosuk Abenaki Nation. Other speakers included Greenbacker’s Chief Operations Officer Matt Murphy and Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy, the latter of whom focused on the economic imperative of sustainable infrastructure investment and the role these projects must play in addressing the climate crisis.
South Street is the largest project that Greenbacker has acquired in Encore’s 2020 Vermont portfolio. Greenbacker’s expertise and existing operations and maintenance provider relationships in the state allow the company to create efficiencies of scale when it acquires additional assets.
The project will help Vermont progress toward its goal of obtaining 90% of its power from renewable energy by 2050.2 The solar power produced by South Street is expected to provide about 30% of the Middlebury College’s total energy needs.3 The college, which reached its goal of carbon neutrality in 2016, is transitioning to run on 100% renewable energy by 2028.4
“We’re proud that South Street’s renewable power and responsible land stewardship will help facilitate a sustainable future in Vermont,” said Charles Wheeler, CEO of GREC. “And it’s an honor to power an educational institution like Middlebury College. Encore’s solar development expertise has been integral to the project’s success, and we look forward to partnering with them again down the road.”
South Street has a long-term power purchase agreement in place, as do the other projects in the portfolio. It was acquired at a preconstruction stage and is expected to reach commercial operation in the second half of 2022.
“Greenbacker has been a great partner in developing agrivoltaic solutions and this project is a model for the expanding benefits that a solar array can offer, including pollinator-friendly ground cover and a location for grazing farm animals, as well as a potential interactive learning opportunity for Middlebury students in the future,” said Chad Farrell, Founder and CEO at Encore Renewable Energy.
Greenbacker’s fleet of sustainable infrastructure projects comprises over 2.2 GW of generating capacity (this includes both South Street and assets that are to be constructed). Since 2016, Greenbacker’s real assets have produced approximately 3.4 million megawatt-hours5 of clean energy, abating 2.4 million metric tons of carbon.6 Today these projects support 3,200 green jobs.7
1 Solar project brings Middlebury College closer to 100 percent renewable energy goal, encorerenewableenergy.com, October 12, 2021.
2 Vermont state website, https://publicservice.vermont.gov/renewable_energy.
3 Solar project brings Middlebury College closer to 100 percent renewable energy goal, encorerenewableenergy.com, October 12, 2021.
4 Middlebury College website, https://www.middlebury.edu/office/energy2028/faqs.
5 Data is as of September 30, 2021.
6 Carbon abatement is calculated using the EPA Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator which uses the AVoided Emissions and geneRation Tool (AVERT) US national weighted average CO2 marginal emission rate to convert reductions of kilowatt-hours into avoided units of carbon dioxide emissions. Data is as of September 30, 2021.
7 Green jobs are calculated from the International Renewable Energy Agency‘s measurement that one megawatt of renewable power supports 3.8 jobs. Data is as of September 30, 2021.