David Kane | Associate Director, Solar Project Development at EDPR NA Distributed Generation
In the coming three years, EDPR NA Distributed Generation’s business plan calls for a significant increase in capacity sourced through greenfield channels. Over that period, the development team plans to bring more than half a gigawatt of DG solar projects online in more than a dozen states across the United States. To achieve this ambitious goal, EDPR will rely on a stable of experienced land agents to help us source suitable solar sites.
The characteristics—substation proximity, sufficient buildable area, no critical habitat—that make a parcel of land attractive to us make it attractive to other developers, as well. This heightened competition results in landowners in key regions being contacted by numerous developers seeking to utilize their land for lease or purchase and puts the onus on our development team to demonstrate how EDPR is different from the others.
So why would a landowner choose EDPR NA DG over potentially dozens of other suitors? There are many reasons, but some of the key differentiators of EDPR’s business include:
Size and Experience: As the fourth largest owner and operator of wind generation in North America, and a heavyweight of clean energy development for more than 20 years, few developers have the financial resources and long operating history of EDPR NA DG, and fewer still have forged as many long-term relationships with the landowners who host our 8.2 gigawatts of wind farms and solar parks across North America. Many of our utility-scale projects have expanded by adding multiple additional phases onto the original, which is only possible when the community has been happy with our presence and is excited about growing the relationship further.
Reliability and EDPR: Some of our landowners have been collecting regular payments for nearly two decades, and with thousands of rent checks going out every month, year after year, EDPR has built up a well-earned reputation for honoring our commitments, doing business the right way, and paying our bills. We have developed a series of stakeholder experiences and videos of landowners sharing their stories about working with EDPR to give prospective landowners a chance to hear directly from individuals who have gone through the process.
EDPR is an Independent Power Producer (IPP): As an IPP, EDPR’s historic approach is to develop, build, own and operate wind and solar projects. This means that a landowner will deal only with EDPR NA DG from the first handshake to the time we decommission a solar park. Moreover, the projects we develop are built to the highest standards of quality and safety because we will own and operate them for decades to come. This commitment to quality and safety is evidenced by the fact that EDPR NA DG continues to be one of the few developers that companies trust to build solar projects on their store roofs. While rooftop projects built by others have encountered serious problems, none of the projects developed and built by EDPR NA DG have had serious safety issues. EDPR NA DG utilizes SolarEdge inverters which, though more expensive, are widely considered the safest inverter for a rooftop project because of their best-in-class rapid shutdown technology. EDPR NA DG builds its solar projects the right way and builds them to last.
Neighbor Agreements: At the outset of a project, EDPR NA DG’s team of experienced developers engages neighbors who may be impacted by a proposed project. Through this consultative approach, we try to ensure neighbors feel fully informed, so they’re not surprised when notified of the project by the local authorities. We often offer neighboring landowners a Neighbor Agreement as a way of starting the relationship out on the right foot, which includes compensation for viewshed and construction-related impacts. Given that our projects will last multiple decades, being a good neighbor in our host communities is central to our way of doing business.
Community Impact: The positive impacts of EDPR NA DG’s projects on their host communities are well documented. EDPR NA DG is currently negotiating a partnership that will deliver several hundred megawatts of projects across the Midwest and yield tens of millions of dollars in financial benefits targeted to low-income communities. We’re proud of our many collaborations—from donations to local 4H chapters, the VFW and Wreaths Across America, to engaging hundreds of students across various STEM programs at public schools and tech centers—that demonstrate a commitment to the communities we serve. And we rely on local residents and leaders to guide us toward social investment opportunities that will be the most meaningful.
Building on EDPR’s Reputation: One of EDPR NA DG’s strategies is to expand relationships with landowners on the margins of areas where EDPR has developed a utility-scale project. These surrounding landowners may have even been approached about a land lease, so familiarity and awareness of EDPR is typically higher, and that leads often leads to a greater degree of trust because they’ve seen first-hand our transparency and respect for local communities.
Our team takes pride in the community relationships we’ve built across the country and the positive impacts our investments have had on local economies. As competition for land increases, experience, financial clout, and reputation are ever more important considerations for landowners contemplating a long-term lease of their land. In the end, it’s critical they put their faith in a partner who is going to deliver on their commitments.
Associate Director – Solar Project Development