Case Studies:

The Humboldt Bay Harbor District

  • System Specs | 717 kW
  • System Production | 882,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) each year
  • Environmental Benefits | offset the greenhouse gas emissions from 141 passenger vehicles driven for one year

Solar Savings Safeguards Financial Soundness

Thanks to the upfront rooftop lease payment from Standard Solar, the Humboldt Bay Harbor District was able to get back into the black while providing sustainability and electricity savings for occupants of its showcase business hub.

Humboldt Bay, a pristine water resource near Eureka, Calif., is home to the Humboldt Bay Harbor District, a business development entity whose mission it is to bring businesses to the area.

One of the centerpieces to their plan is to reinvent buildings including an abandoned power plant into business-incubator office space of which companies want to be a part—which sets up a second and third conundrum.

What energy source could be both hip enough to attract the types of businesses the district wanted to entice to the old power plant but would save the district money? And secondly, how could the district make such an investment without putting any money up front—and could they structure it in such a way that it would make a profit?

All these questions faced the district when it sat down with Standard Solar to discuss putting a 717 kW solar system on the old power plant—and fortunately, Standard Solar had the right plan to satisfy all their needs.

A Path To The Black

One of the central concerns of the district was how to find the money to make the project happen. When it approached Standard Solar with its solar array idea, one proposed solution was for the company to lease the roof space for the array for 25 years.

Thanks to the $310 million financing well Standard Solar had from its parent company Énergir, the company was able to fund, in full, the upfront payment on the lease, securing the rooftop real estate for the lifetime of the solar array. The payment allowed the district to make significant strides toward solvency and gave Standard Solar the rooftop space it needed to build the array.

Once the array was built, the district would also start saving more than $48,000 annually over the life of its power-purchase agreement (PPA) with Standard Solar, a savings of $1.2 million over the 25-year term.

Protecting The Environment & Boosting Business

The neary 2,200 module array is expected to provide 882,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) each year and offset the greenhouse gas emissions from 141 passenger vehicles driven for one year. With the area’s emphasis on sustainability, the new solar array fits right in with that mission.

For Standard Solar, the project represents an opportunity to expand its California portfolio with an eye toward helping the Humboldt Bay Harbor District bring more business to the area.

“This project, an ideal addition to our solar portfolio in California, underscores our ability to bring good projects online through our partnership focus and flexibility when it comes to financing,” said Scott Wiater, president and CEO, Standard Solar. “We believe in the future of this area and were willing to fund this project up-front in order to give the district the financial stability it needs to prosper.”

The Humboldt Bay Harbor District had a three-pronged mission when it was deciding how to power its centerpiece, a building it proposed to repurpose into a business hub. First, the energy source had to be hip enough to bring in new businesses. Second, it had to save the city money. Lastly, the project would require a partner with the financial wherewithal to provide funds up front.

Standard Solar agreed to finance, build, own and maintain the 717 kW solar system, including an upfront “roof lease” payment. Once installed, the array would save the district more than $48,000 per year for the next 25 years—and it allowed the district to prove its commitment to sustainability to companies looking to locate there.

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