Renewable energy company announces Stanly Solar facility

Photo courtesy of Pine Gate Renewables

ALBEMARLE — Pine Gate Renewables, a nationwide provider of solar energy development, recently confirmed the ongoing construction of its second Stanly County project.  

Earlier this year, Albemarle Solar — the company’s first facility within the county — went online with 2.78 megawatts of energy; Pine Gate Renewables’ upcoming project will be 25-times stronger in comparison. 

Located 10 miles southwest of Albemarle on a property that flanks Old Aquadale Road, Stanly Solar is slated to generate 50MW of renewable energy that could power up to 10,000 homes in the Albemarle community. On average, the Solar Energy Industry Association estimates that one megawatt of energy can produce enough energy for about 200 homes on an annual basis. 

“In addition to generating clean energy, Stanly Solar will provide construction jobs to dozens of workers, infuse money into local businesses and provide tax revenue to the town of Albemarle,” Ben Catt, CEO of Pine Gate Renewables, said in an Oct. 20 press release. “We’re excited to secure yet another significant solar project in our home state.”  

The new alternating current solar facility is financed by a 20-year power purchase agreement with the Competitive Procurement of Renewable Energy program through Duke Energy Carolinas. The Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group gave the construction and permanent loan, while John Hancock provided the preferred equity, and Churchill Stateside Group provided the tax equity. 

Sean Andersen, Pine Gate Renewables’ director of project development, told SCJ that the first pre-construction activities for Stanly Solar began in January and the facility is on track to reach service and commercial operation by the end of this year. 

“I will say it’s going to be all hands on deck over the next six to eight weeks to get this project in service. We’re cautiously optimistic based on our experience in our current timeline that we should have the flexibility to do exactly that,” Andersen said.  

The project director explained that the solar energy industry has shifted toward more transmission-scale solar developments in order to achieve the necessary economies of scale, adding that “every six months,” there’s a major technological advancement that is making the facilities more efficient and cheaper to construct. 

At this moment, Stanly Solar is just one of Pine Gate Renewables’ 15 projects under construction in North Carolina. When they are all completed and fully online, they represent 300MW of clean energy that will be added to the state’s energy grid. 

Headquartered in Asheville, the company currently holds 907MW of energy in operational assets with more than 12 gigawatts in development. To date, Pine Gate Renewables has raised over $3.1 billion in capital, with solar facilities that span from Rhode Island to Oregon. 

“When we put these projects online, it feels like we are moving the needle forward as far as changing the energy landscape of our country,” Andersen said. “This project (Stanly Solar) is going to be operational for decades into the future.”