Courier staff writer
ALAMOSA — The operator of the San Luis Valley Solar Ranch is transferring ownership of the 30-megawatt facility to an international financial services company, but the move won’t affect its existing agreements with Alamosa County.
Juan Altamirano, the county’s land use manager, told county commissioners on Wednesday that operator Iberdrola Renewables will continue to run the project.
The Spanish company and its subsidiary will also honor the permitting requirements they previously agreed to, and the community development and site-decommissioning funds they created will remain in place, he said.
Based on those assurances, county commissioners voted unanimously to transfer an existing county permit from Iberdrola subsidiary San Luis Solar to BTMU Capital Leasing & Finance.
Commission Chairman Darius Allen thanked the company’s representatives for keeping county officials in the loop.
“I’m happy that they’d come to us and make us aware of everything that’s going on,” he said.
The board’s action came after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved a request to transfer an undivided ownership interest from San Luis Solar to BTMU. (The latter company is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Ltd.)
San Luis Solar’s FERC filings state that the new owners will act as “passive participants,” and will not have any control or decision-making authority over the project’s operations, or its energy sales.
“Iberdrola Renewables will continue to operate the facility, so there’s really not going to be a change in personnel at the facility,” Altamirano noted. “Everything is going to continue as we know it has continued to operate. This is strictly just for a financing issue … within the company.”
According to Altamirano, the transfer gives the company a funding mechanism to generate more capital.
Under an agreement with the new owners, San Luis Solar/Iberdrola will lease an undivided interest in the project back from BTMU. The new owners, in turn, will have the right to sell or transfer some or all of their interests or rights to other passive investors.
The transfer comes shortly before the plant celebrates its first big milestone. Commercial production at the property began last March on 220 acres of privately owned land near Mosca.
At peak capacity, the plant’s 110,000 photovoltaic modules produce enough power to serve 7,500 homes, according to Iberdrola’s website.