A North Carolina solar project in which Google is the sole off-taker. The system was installed and developed by Cypress Creek Renewables.
Google and EDPR NA Distributed Generation have announced the signing of a framework agreement supporting more than 80 distributed solar PV projects totaling 500 MWAC. The deal aligns with an environmental justice program benefiting over 25,000 families in low-to-moderate income (LMI) communities — with an initial focus on projects in the PJM Interconnection service area, which stretches from New Jersey to Ohio. The initial projects will be built in Ohio, where Google operates a data center campus in New Albany and Google Cloud region in Columbus.
The transaction with Google marks the largest corporate sponsorship of distributed solar development in the United States, according to data from S&P Global and BloombergNEF. The initiative, named the Clean Energy Financial Benefit Sharing Program, will be funded, in part, through Google’s purchase of a novel renewable energy credit (REC) called the ImpactREC.
The ImpactREC, like other traditional RECs, is generated in and eligible for the applicable compliance market; however, its minting carries additional covenants certifying direct community investment and direct LMI benefit. The ImpactREC program synthetically provides similar economic benefits of community solar in jurisdictions currently lacking supportive legislation. The EDPR NA DG team, led by Christopher Rittenhouse and Adam Woda, collaborated with Google over the last two years to conceive and develop the ImpactREC product and its supporting framework agreement.
“What we heard through interviews with local community leaders and Environmental Justice advocates was that the disproportionate impact of high energy burden remains a primary barrier to an equitable energy transition. Partnering with EDPR NA DG, we aim to reduce energy burden in the communities where we operate, while progressing toward our 24/7 carbon-free energy goal,” said Sana Ouji, energy lead at Google. “We are grateful to EDPR for their partnership, collaboration and steady focus on our shared mission, and excited to have the opportunity to contribute to our data center communities by extending the benefits of our clean energy investments.”
In addition to the ImpactREC purchase, the program includes the creation of a community impact fund valued at $12 million. The fund focuses on initiatives reducing energy poverty in the communities where the projects are built. Google and EDPR NA DG are committed to localized social and economic justice as part of the transition to a sustainable future.
“The partnership with Google paves the way for the creation of a new, corporate-led, market segment focused on breaking down the typical barriers associated with the rapid, distributed, and equitable decarbonization of the energy system,” added Richard Dovere, Chief Investment Officer of EDPR NA DG. “A major feature of this partnership is its ‘open book’ approach. Over the coming weeks, we will release the blueprints to the market with the intention to make the ImpactREC the defining incentive methodology to enable localized renewable development linked with environmental justice.”
The initiative is made possible partly because of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) passed in 2022, which includes landmark tax incentives for domestic energy production and manufacturing. The ImpactREC leverages these incentives to provide direct investment into communities throughout the Midwest and Northeast and enable economic benefits for LMI communities.
News item from EDP Renewables