Butte College Goes 'Off The Grid'
Butte College can now add another achievement to its already lofty list. Not only is this college famously known for being the catalyst that launched Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodger’s career, as well as former NFL great Larry Allen’s, it is now the first college in the history of the United States to go completely ‘grid positive.’
Butte College can now generate more electricity from its 25,000 solar panel arrays than it can consume. These 25,000 solar panels will generate more than 6.5 million kilowatt hours per year – enough to power 941 average-sized homes or 615 passenger cars. This college will give back the energy it doesn’t use to the grid, making it completely ‘grid positive.’
"That's a good thing for us," Butte College president Dr. Diana Van Der Ploeg explains, according to News10. "It helps us be a little more entrepreneurial and make more money for the college."
This achievement means big things for Butte College. Going ‘off the grid’ will reduce the college’s carbon emissions, lower its utility bills and serve as a resource for training workers for jobs in the energy efficiency and renewable energy sectors, says News10.
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It's estimated that the college will have big savings throughout the next 15 years, it's expected to cut between $50 and $75 million, even after project costs.
"I applaud Butte College for reaching this impressive milestone,” says California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, according to News10. “After years of work to install thousands of solar panels on campus, Butte College has become the first in the country to generate all of its electricity, and then some, from renewable energy.”
USS pension fund buys 50% stake in Bruc Energy
The Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) private pension fund has taken a 50% stake in Bruc Energy, a Spain and Portugal renewables-focussed investment vehicle created by OPTrust and Spanish businessman, Juan Béjar.
In the transaction arranged by USS Investment Management, the wholly-owned subsidiary and principal investment manager and advisor to the Scheme, USS has invested €225M (c.£200m) in return for the stake in a major pipeline of 4,000MW of PV farms. Bruc Energy has an ambitious growth plan that goes beyond this to invest in other green energies, such as wind power.
USS, which announced two weeks ago its aim to be net zero by 2050, already has a strong relationship with both OPTrust and Juan Bejar through Globalvia, a specialist infrastructure platform focussed on managing rail and highways assets around the world.
Spain’s sun-drenched climate and national target to reach 100% renewable-based generation by 2050 make it an attractive place to invest in solar energy. In addition, the decades long lifespan of solar PV panels make them well-suited to USS in helping pay members’ pensions long into the future.
USS Investment Management CEO, Simon Pilcher, said: “We are delighted to be committing further finance to renewables and particularly to a major Spanish solar platform like this. We have already invested or committed around £1 billion to renewable energy and demand for this will only increase as more and more countries transition to lower carbon. We know that our members care very much about climate change and ESG and we are convinced that USS playing its part in supporting the transition to a low carbon economy makes good financial sense, too. This announcement closely follows on from our stated ambition to become Net Zero by 2050 so this transaction and others like it will be a key plank of our strategy going forward.”
Gavin Merchant, Co-Head of Direct Equity, said: “We have worked alongside OPTrust and Juan Béjar for many years and are delighted to be making this investment. The long-term nature of solar and the steady returns make renewables attractive to a pension scheme needing to pay pensions for years to come.”
OPTrust’s Morgan McCormick, Managing Director, Private Markets Group UK said: “We are excited to have USS join Bruc Energy building on our strong existing relationship. Their investment will help Bruc become one of the leading renewable energy platforms in Spain. At OPTrust, we believe that investing in renewable energy helps transitions the world to a more sustainable economy. In doing so, we can continue to deliver on our mission of paying pensions today and preserving pensions for tomorrow.”
Béjar said the partnership is a key step to establishing Bruc as one of the more dynamic players in the renewables industry in Spain, because it ensures access to the funds to develop our current portfolio. "All three shareholders of Bruc Energy share a long-term vision, but also the ambition and the social responsibility to counter the effects of climate change in the short-term," he said.
Following the transaction, which remains subject to conditions, including regulatory approval, Bruc Energy will be owned 50% by USS and BROP, a vehicle owned by OPTrust and Béjar. The transaction was advised by Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), Greenhill and Nomura. Juan Béjar will be the president of Bruc Energy and Luis Venero the CEO.