This article comes from law firm Norton Rose Fulbright and is authored by Keith Martin
Renewable energy developers reported coming into 2018 that the competition for power purchase agreements to supply electricity to utilities and corporate offtakers was “brutal.” The situation appears to have made a dramatic turnaround.
NextEra Energy CFO John Ketchum said during the company’s earnings call in April that the first quarter this year was “one of the best quarters of new renewables origination in our history.”
Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association, said during a webinar that wind developers signed 2,300 megawatts of PPAs in just the first 60 days this year.
The Rocky Mountain Institute, which tracks such contracts, reports 27 contracts signed for 2,480 megawatts through May 16. The previous high water mark for corporate PPAs over an entire year was 32 contracts for 3,120 megawatts in 2015.
Companies signing contracts so far this year include AT&T, Microsoft, Walmart, Facebook, Google, Target, T-Mobile, MGM, Kohler, Nike, Grupo Bimbo, Merck, Nestle, General Motors, Wynn Las Vegas, Ingersoll Rand, Bloomberg, Switch, Adobe, Brown-Forman and Iron Mountain.
Banks turned a corner last year when JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs signed contracts after working through potential bank regulatory issues. Fifth Third Bank signed a contract this year.
TransAlta Renewables appears to have signed the first contract with a blockchain platform that presumably offers members a portal to buy electricity at prices that are lower than the retail rates on offer from local utilities. It signed a contract in Canada on May 1 to supply 35 megawatts from an existing gas-fired power plant to the platform for a term of five years with an option to renew for another five years. The offtaker was described only as a “leading Canadian blockchain company.”
Meanwhile, prices for contracted power from wind farms in the American Midwest hit $12 a megawatt hour earlier this year. The levelized price in all new contracts signed by wind developers in 2017 was under $20 a megawatt hour.