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groSolar uses NY-Sun grant to develop OBPA solar project

By Eric Reinhardt


OGDENSBURG — Global Resource Options Inc., which does business as groSolar, is preparing to build a 1 megawatt solar project on a site that the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority (OBPA) owns in St. Lawrence County.


The site is located on Tibbitts Drive in Ogdensburg, a city located along the St. Lawrence River.


The firm, which has main offices in Columbia, Maryland and White River Junction, Vermont, has also designed the project and will operate it.


“This project is under development,” says John Miller, project developer with groSolar. “Construction has not yet commenced.”


Miller spoke to CNYBJ on June 22 from West Milford, New Jersey.


The solar project covers about 6 acres and includes about 4,000 photovoltaic modules. The project will produce about 1.55 million kilowatt hours of clean, renewable electricity. The clean energy produced would power 175 homes for one year or is the equivalent of taking 125 cars off the road for a year.


The project has been in development for about nine of 10 months, says Miller. 


“The nature of ground-mount solar projects in New York is that the planning and approvals stage, which includes all of the engineering, can take longer than the physical construction in the field,” says Tim Heinle, director of business development at groSolar.


He spoke to CNYBJ on June 22 from the firm’s office in Columbia, Maryland.


The firm anticipates construction will start late in the third quarter or early in the fourth quarter of 2015, Miller adds.


The firm hopes to have the project operational near the end of 2015 or early in the first quarter of 2016, weather permitting, he adds.


Once operational, the solar project will produce clean electricity to meet 100 percent of the OBPA’s requirements, according to a news release groSolar distributed in October 2014.


“The [OBPA] owns a lot of real estate, a lot of buildings … they manage a lot of buildings in that area … including the airport, the port … several office buildings in the area,” says Miller.


The Authority collaborated with Rochester–based Larsen Engineers to solicit bids from solar developers before selecting groSolar to develop, construct, own, and operate the project for the Authority.


Due to its agreements with NYSERDA and the OBPA, groSolar can’t reveal the project cost, says Miller. 


“The customer … [is] investing absolutely zero capital, zero operational risk. [It’s] only paying for power that the system is producing and is doing so at a discounted rate,” he adds.


The firm groSolar is using a grant from the NY-Sun program to finance the project. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) administers the program.


NY-Sun is Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s $1 billion initiative to advance the scale-up of solar and move the state closer to having a sustainable, self-sufficient solar industry.


Cuomo in a Sept. 26 news release announced a total of $94 million in grants to develop 142 solar projects across the state.


The firm also is prohibited from divulging the specific amount of its grant award. “It’s approximately 20 percent funded through support from NYSERDA,” Miller adds.


In addition to federal-tax benefits, groSolar is … raising private funds to cover the remaining project cost, says Miller.


The firm groSolar is a commercial and utility scale solar developer and engineering, procurement, and construction (or EPC) firm specializing in projects over 1 megawatt, according to the October news release.


The more than 15-year-old firm has installed more than 2,000 projects nationwide, it said. 


They include the development and installation of solar projects at brownfields and landfills; manufacturing plants; and commercial, educational, and municipal facilities.


The company’s “institutional investors” include NGP Energy Technology Partners, Durham, North Carolina–based SJF Ventures, and Bethesda, Maryland–based Calvert Social Investment Fund, the groSolar website says.  


NGP Energy Technology Partners, with offices in Washington D.C. and Texas, has $500 million under management and is closely affiliated with NGP Energy Capital Management, a $13 billion firm which has been active in the natural-resources sector since 1988.           



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