Denver International Airport is installing a 2-megawatt solar array to provide up to half the electricity needed to power the facility’s people-mover transit system. In an increasingly common financial arrangement for commercial solar installations, green energy financier MMA Renewable Ventures (MMA) will finance and own the project and sell the electricity it produces to the airport under a long-term power purchase agreement.
The twist here is that Colorado utility Xcel Energy (XEL) will buy the renewable energy credits associated with the solar project and use them to help fulfill its obligation to source 20 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020. (In many states solar, wind and other renewable energy projects are assigned RECs to account for the value of the clean power they produce. Such credits then can sold or traded.) Under Colorado law, utilities can use such credits to meet that mandate. All in all a good deal for MMA Renewable Venutures, which as owner of the project will sell the RECs, receive a rebate from Xcel to help offset construction costs, get a hefty federal tax break, and receive guaranteed revenue from the electricity the solar array produces.