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SMECO Seeks Second Solar Project Proposals
Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative (SMECO), through the National Renewables Cooperative Organization, is requesting proposals for solar electricity generation within SMECO’s service area. SMECO is seeking solar renewable energy deliveries of up to 16,000 megawatt-hours per year, or 2-10 megawatts (MW) alternating current of solar capacity. While this quantity represents the entire solicitation and SMECO expects to contract for one project, it is possible that multiple offers that are attractive and that cumulate to 10 MW may be accepted.
Like all Maryland electric utilities, SMECO is required to procure a certain amount of renewable energy or renewable energy credits. According to Austin J. Slater, Jr., SMECO president and CEO, “We built our first solar project in Hughesville, and it has been generating energy since November 2012. We had an advantage when we developed that project because we already owned the property, the property is located next to existing power lines, and we received a federal grant.” Slater added, “Outright ownership of a large-scale project may not be advantageous for SMECO at this time, but, opportunities exist because the technology is proven, solar panel prices are lower, and financing is affordable.”
This request for proposals (RFP) is intended to solicit bids for resources to meet requirements for 2015 and beyond. Responses to this solicitation may serve as the basis for contract negotiations, which if successful, would then lead to a commitment by the parties to enter into a binding contract, subject to approval by requisite regulatory agencies, including the Maryland Public Service Commission and the Rural Utilities Service, which is an agency of the US Department of Agriculture.
Only those renewable solar resources which meet the definitions contained within the Maryland renewable portfolio standard requirements for solar energy will be considered; bidders are encouraged to confirm that projects conform to these requirements before submitting a response to the RFP. Under this RFP, SMECO is not seeking renewable energy credits without the associated energy or demand side management related facilities and programs. Only commercially proven photovoltaic technologies will be considered.
Preference will be given to proposals that offer the design, construction, and sale of facilities. Proposals offering asset sale to SMECO and incorporating monetization of tax incentives may allow for competitive price advantages. SMECO will consider the purchase of existing generation facilities, ownership of facilities specifically constructed for sale to SMECO, designated portions of larger facilities or combinations thereof. Any PPA must be sourced from a unit-specific generation asset or from a group of generation assets. Proposals may include outright ownership of new or existing facilities, Power Purchase Agreements (PPA), PPA with ownership or renewal options at the end of a PPA term, or other arrangements as may be offered under the RFP.
SMECO is a customer-owned electric cooperative providing electricity to more than 154,000 services in Charles County, St. Mary’s County, southern Prince George’s County, and all but the northeast portion of Calvert County. Co-ops are distinctly different from investor-owned utilities because co-ops are owned by their customers, and customer-members elect the men and women who serve on the Board of Directors.
Co-ops also issue capital credits to their customer-members. What are capital credits? They are the member’s share of the co-op’s margins, based on how much electricity the member purchased and the rate at which the account was billed. SMECO’s margins—revenue less expenses—are used as working capital for new construction and system improvements. When SMECO’s Board of Directors determines that a percentage of the capital credits can be distributed to members through a general refund, capital credits are issued by check or credited to members’ electric bills.
Cooperatives across the country formed the National Renewables Cooperative Organization (NRCO) to promote and facilitate the development of renewable energy resources for its members. NRCO’s main purposes are to facilitate the cost-effective, joint development of renewable resources nationwide for its cooperative owners, helping its owners meet the requirements of voluntary and mandatory Renewable Energy Standards (RES).
Membership in the NRCO is open to generation and transmission cooperatives (G&Ts) and distribution cooperatives that have the legal ability to buy power in the wholesale market. Members located in areas that may not have renewable resources can participate in projects across the United States through renewable projects originated and/or developed by NRCO. For more information, please visit www.nrco.coop.
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