Dover agrees to buy power from large solar arrays planned for Delaware
The City of Dover plans to buy power from a pair of solar projects expected to be the biggest in the state to date.
The 50-megawatt Raceway array Freepoint Solar plans to build in Harrington has finished the county permitting process. The 114-megawatt Cedar Creek project Freepoint Solar is planning for Townsend hasn’t started that process yet—but the developers are confident both projects could be in construction in the next two years.
The largest arrays in the state right now are the 15-megawatt Milford Solar Farm and the 10-megawatt Dover SUN Park.
The City of Dover recently finalized a long-term lease agreement to buy 25 megawatts from each of Freepoint’s planned projects.
Peter Ford is managing director of Freepoint Commodities and leads Freepoint Solar. He is hopeful about the renewable energy landscape in Delaware.
“As things develop, we think Delaware is going to be a market where there will be customers, willing landowners, and part of just a wave of energy transition,” he said.
Freepoint is still looking for large energy buyers for the two projects.
Matt Harline is assistant city manager for the City of Dover. He says the fixed cost of the energy, and its transmission, over the 25-year lease will be “very competitive” with natural gas.
“This is not a feel-good project,” said Harline. “This is a smart business decision.”
The City has not released the exact cost of the lease.
“We have not released that exact price because it’s an agreement with the vendor,” said Harline. “But it would generate power in the range of four cents per kilowatt hour … You have to buy a piece of a power plant—that's your capacity. You have to buy the electricity going down the wire—that's the energy. And then you have to have a route to get it back to you, which is transmission. Because both of these projects are so close to Dover, those transmission costs will be very low as well.”
Harline adds that having a substantial portion of renewable energy in the City’s portfolio may help it comply with future governmental requirements. The Dover municipal utility’s energy portfolio will be roughly 38 percent renewable oncethe Freepoint projects come online, Harline says.
An extension of Delaware’s statutory Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard, which is set to expire in 2025, was introduced to the General Assembly this year, but did not pass before the end of the session. The legislation passed in 2005 required energy utilities to get 25 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2025, and allowed them to purchase renewable energy credits from others. The extension would have required retail and municipal energy utilities to deliver an energy product at least 40 percent renewable by 2035.
Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Secretary Shawn Garvin recently said the agency will continue to work with the General Assembly to craft the “next iteration” of the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard.
Harline says regardless of state requirements, a transition to renewable energy is necessary for environmental sustainability.
“There are projections that due to climate change, a substantial portion of Delaware might go underwater,” said Harline. “So I think it's incumbent on local governments to take serious steps that way.”
The Raceway and Cedar Creek projects could each take less than a year to build, Ford says. Freepoint’s combined investment in the projects is expected to be more than $160 million.