SunEd buys Comanche for yieldco

SunEdison has acquired the 156MW late-development-stage Comanche PV project in Colorado from the developer Community Energy, and revealed it as one of the projects for which its newly listed yieldco, TerraForm Power, has Right of First Offer.

Set to enter construction next year near Pueblo, CO, and finish in 2016, Comanche is slated to become the largest US solar project east of the Rocky Mountains.

Earlier this year the utility Xcel Energy agreed to buy the electricity generated by the project through a 25-year PPA, at what SunEdison calls “rates that are competitive with the long-term forecast for natural-gas fired generation”.

Colorado’s rooftop PV sector was critical of the deal at the time, suggesting that Xcel may have signed the deal to prevent it from having to allow more net-metered distributed generation onto the system. Comanche will meet significantly more than half of the solar target within Xcel’s current renewables plan.

SunEdison will partner with Community Energy to take the project through the final stages of development, including helping to structure financing and providing procurement expertise. SunEdison will then manage construction, operation and maintenance – with TerraForm having the right to buy the project upon completion, if it so chooses.

The project will use SunEdison’s in-house monocrystalline modules.

In an S-1 filing last week, just before its initial public offering in which it raised more than $500m, TerraForm Power listed a 156MW project known only as known as “US Western project #1” as one of the development-stage assets that it would have the right to acquire from SunEdison.

The deal represents a big win for 15-year-old Community Energy, which was acquired principally as a wind developer in 2006 by Ibedrola Renewables, before striking out on its own once again in 2009 as an independently owned company, with a renewed focus on utility-scale solar.