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RBC signs agreement to support Alberta solar farm projects

RBC signs agreement to support Alberta solar farm projects
PROVINCE OF ALBERTA — Alberta government officials inspect solar panels at Gridworks Solar Energy Training Centre. A new agreement between RBC, Bullfrog Power and BluEarth Renewables will create several new solar projects in the province.

FORTY MILE, ALTA. — RBC recently announced it has inked a formal agreement with Bullfrog Power, a Spark Power company, and BluEarth Renewables for a long-term renewable energy Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). The partnership is the first of its kind for a Canadian financial institution.

Starting next spring, effective April 2021, the PPA will directly support the construction of two new utility-scale solar farms being developed in Forty Mile, Alta.

The 19 MW and 20 MW solar farms are expected to provide more than 300 new construction jobs and pour $70 million into the province’s economy. Together, they will provide roughly 80,000 MWh of renewable energy to Alberta’s general electricity grid annually, enough to power over 6,400 homes for a year. The solar projects will take up 300 acres and represent two of Canada’s largest solar farms at the time of their completed construction.

“We’re proud to be the first Canadian bank to sign a long-term renewable energy Power Purchase Agreement, demonstrating our commitment to clean, sustainable power,” said Scott Foster, global head of corporate real estate at RBC, in a press release. “This agreement, and our partnership with Bullfrog Power and BluEarth Renewables, will help support our clients and communities in the areas where we live and work with the low-carbon transition, while accelerating clean economic growth. We are excited to be taking a leadership position in this sector and continue our support of environment-focused innovation.”

RBC and Bullfrog Power have been collaborating since 2005 when RBC became Bullfrog Power’s first major corporate purchaser of renewable energy. To date, RBC has purchased nearly 200,000 MWh of renewable energy from Bullfrog Power.

In 2019, the two formed a buyers’ partnership – an emerging strategy in corporate PPAs where companies partner to gain access to larger projects, benefiting from economies of scale and sharing in the costs of executing these agreements.

“Power purchase agreements are the most effective way to expand renewable energy in Canada,” said Sean Drygas, president of Bullfrog Power. “As we continue to advise our clients on signing their own PPAs, nothing shows our belief in their value more than signing our own. We’re proud to support BluEarth’s Burdett and Yellow Lake Solar Project, and we’re thrilled to be on this path alongside RBC, a long-time champion of green energy.”

RBC and BluEarth Renewables’ collaboration began in 2014 when RBC participated in a project-level financing to one of BluEarth’s projects. Since then, RBC Capital Markets has been a financial adviser to BluEarth on two acquisitions and also co-ordinated and syndicated the bank financing to complete those acquisitions.

“We are proud to partner with RBC and Bullfrog – organizations that are committed to building a sustainable future and taking action on climate change,” said Grant Arnold, president and CEO of BluEarth Renewables. “BluEarth executed a term sheet for this power in 2019 and, despite COVID-19 and other market disruptions, pricing, terms and the schedule were maintained. This partnership demonstrates that renewable energy can be cost-competitive in an open market and PPAs can facilitate green investment in the Alberta economy.”

RBC’s power purchased from the solar farms will contribute directly to two key targets of the RBC Climate Blueprint: reduce absolute greenhouse gas emissions from its operations by 70 per cent by 2025 and increase sourcing of renewable and non-emitting electricity to 100 per cent by 2025. The RBC Climate Blueprint is the bank’s enterprise climate change strategy to accelerate clean economic growth and support our clients in the transition to a low-carbon economy. Commitments of the strategy include investing in technology to address complex environmental challenges, advancing climate risk management, providing $100 billion in sustainable financing by 2025, and more.

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