The Largest Solar C-PACE Project is Seeing Immediate Savings. 



Ethanol, Inc. (NASDAQ:PEIX), a leading producer and marketer of low-carbon renewable fuels in the United States, purchased and installed a new 5 megawatt (MW) solar photovoltaic (PV) power system at their Madera, California biorefinery plant, which produces ethanol, wet distiller grains and corn oil.


The Pacific Ethanol financing is the largest solar commercial PACE (C-PACE) transaction to date. The improvement also represents the largest solar PV system (based on power generating capacity) to be funded through a PACE program.


The $10-million financed through CleanFund's SolarPACE product offered the highest NPV and has delivered the strongest near-term cash flow when compared to leases, PPAs, or cash purchase.


Now in operation, the 5 MW solar PV system offsets 2/3rds of the plant’s daytime demand and reduces the facility’s annual utility costs by over $1 million. The project has been cash-flow positive from year one and will offset 7,740 metric tons of CO2 annually. The system also qualified for the Energy Investment Tax Credit, which further improved the project economics.


“The integration of solar power at our Madera plant underscores our commitment to optimize our plant assets, lower the carbon intensity of our ethanol and reduce our operating costs,” says Neil Koehler, president and CEO of Pacific Ethanol. “We are proud to build the first ever commercial solar electricity system at a U.S. ethanol plant.”


Video Case Study Produced by our Partners at Borrego Solar.


Greg Saunders, CEO of CleanFund adds, “We are honored that Pacific Ethanol selected CleanFund as its capital provider, and is utilizing our SolarPACE™ financing to install a state-of-the-art solar system on their amazing biorefinery. We are excited to partner with Pacific Ethanol as it leads the way in the deployment of renewable energy power systems at its industrial facilities.”


The solar plant is located adjacent to the Pacific Ethanol industrial facility situated on 137 acres in Madera County, California. The 5 MW solar PV system reduces the Madera facility’s annual utility costs by over $1 million and has been cash flow positive from year one. The system also qualifies for the Energy Investment Tax Credit, further improving its attractive investment profile.


The system was designed and installed by Borrego Solar, ranked as one of the top providers of commercial distributed generation solar energy systems in the U.S.


“Pacific Ethanol represents the new generation of fuel companies—low carbon fuel production powered by zero carbon energy,” said Mike Hall, CEO of Borrego Solar. “This will be one of the largest single-site net metered projects in PG&E territory. Historically these types of projects were limited to a single megawatt, but given the recent CPUC NEM 2.0 ruling, large energy users are now able to go above that threshold and offset a significantly larger portion of their overall usage. In addition, by financing this project through PACE, Pacific Ethanol is able to retain full ownership of the system from day one and capture the tax incentives afforded to solar system owners.”


More about CleanFund's SolarPACE product:

SolarPACE financing helps property owners save significant amounts of money — whether or not the owners have the ability to adequately utilize all available tax benefits. This is because CleanFund’s SolarPACE program finances solar systems on a direct-ownership basis, as well as indirect ownership utilizing a power purchase agreement. When a property is sold, SolarPACE financing and the future cash flow benefits transfer to the new property owner. In multi-tenant properties, both owners and tenants can share in the costs and benefits of solar energy using SolarPACE, which is normally not possible with self-financing or bank financing.


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