Developer creates innovative way for utility-scale project neighbors to reap solar benefits

By Sarah Moser, senior development manager, Savion

As one of the largest utility-scale solar and energy storage development companies in the U.S., Savion is deeply committed to being a good neighbor and meeting the unique needs of its project communities. The solar energy facilities we develop provide many benefits to a local community including generating increased tax revenue that can go toward support funds for improvements to local schools, roads, emergency services, infrastructure and more. They also create local jobs and drive economic development opportunities that positively impact local businesses and supply chains.

Throughout the development phase for each solar project, many neighboring homeowners have expressed interest in benefitting from the low cost of solar power; however, they cannot be directly plugged into the projects. Working in close partnership with OGW Energy Resources (OGW), our team studied ways to meet this request. Earlier this year, we launched an innovative new program to bring residential solar energy to neighbors of a few Savion Ohio utility-scale solar projects.

The Atlanta Farms Solar Project in Pickaway County, Ohio, is the first project in which we were able to provide this exciting value-added opportunity. Currently, nine residences adjacent to the project are working with Savion and OGW, with installation slated for Spring 2021. Similar to other community benefit opportunities, these residential solar additions are contingent upon project approval and completion, which is expected in early 2021.

To achieve this goal, Savion and residential solar partner, OGW, met with residents neighboring the project to discuss interest, need, eligibility and the opportunity of adding residential solar to their home or property. Eligibility depends on a variety of factors including proximity to the project, line of sight direction to facilities, visual vegetation and buffers that may naturally affect viewshed, as well as specific needs in a community, size of the project and number of homes affected. Savion will provide the budget for OGW to ensure the home or property is ready for installation, make necessary repairs or enhancements to the structure, and then complete the installation. Once installed, OGW will serve as the provider moving forward.

Adding residential solar to neighboring homes is an innovative way to enhance the benefits that solar has to offer everyone and demonstrate Savion’s commitment to the spirit of community. Homeowners will see energy savings for the next 25 to 30 years, while also gaining a better understanding of how solar works as they experience it in their own homes. This initiative is a first industry-wide, and even though a program like this may not be feasible for all communities, Savion has already committed to the practice on three other Ohio projects and hopes to use it across other project communities where the desire exists.