Developing a renewable power project is complicated. There are many elements to the process, all of which must come together in order for the development to proceed to construction and then to operations.
Every project is unique, but our process generally goes through the following stages:
1. Site Identification and resource assessment
We consider our expertise in site identification and resource assessment to be one of our main competitive advantages.
Our team of meteorologists, engineers, and developers visits and studies sites across the country to find those locations with the right combination of wind or solar resource, willing landowners, compatible environmental conditions, and transmission grid accessibility.
Using our decades of experience, sophisticated models, and on-site measurement, our team works to determine if a site has sufficient wind or solar resources to be competitive in the marketplace. We also look at other important factors such as:
- Connection to the Grid: Can the local grid accept the power the site will produce?
- Economic Feasibility: What are the expected revenues vs. costs of construction and operation? We build detailed financial models to answer these questions.
- Community Support: Will the local community embrace a wind or solar farm? We know that in order to be successful, we must develop strong relationships and be a good neighbor in the communities in which we operate.
2. LEase Negotiation
A carefully planned lease or easement agreement is the foundation of win-win-win deals between our company, landowners, and power purchasers.
Typical land agreements have a pre-construction period during which Orion works to clear all development and financing hurdles and lays the plans to allow construction to begin. This is followed by construction and then operations, which typically lasts for 30 years with options for the project to extend up to 20 additional years at the end of the initial term.
3. Environmental review and permitting
Orion conducts a suite of reviews of each potential site in order to ensure that a project will be compatible with the local environment. These reviews help identify historical or archaeological features, wetlands, past soil contamination, and any sensitive species such as birds and bats that could be impacted. The results of environmental assessments are used to establish whether a particular site is compatible with renewable power generation, and if so, to develop a site design that will avoid or minimize potential environmental impacts. Once we determine that a site is economically viable and environmentally responsible, we work to procure all necessary permits and approvals from local and state governments.
4. power sales
A reliable and creditworthy power purchaser or “liquid” energy market for the power generated by a project must be identified. Power sales agreements are entered into with electric utility companies, commercial and industrial customers, or power marketers who purchase the electricity, typically under long-term contracts. Orion has negotiated power sales agreements for projects across the U.S.
Renewable power projects are capital intensive. Thanks to our long and successful track record and our reputation for integrity, we have a large number of financing partners eager to provide financing to our projects.
We have decades of experience with construction finance, term loans, and highly structured equity investment. This ensures that once development is complete, we can move efficiently into construction and then operations, assured that the capital is there to purchase equipment and pay to construct the project.
6. equipment procurement and construction
Orion is not affiliated with any wind turbine or solar panel manufacturer. This independence, coupled with our experience working with all major manufacturers, allows us to select the most competitive, reliable, and technically suitable generating equipment for each project. We also have extensive experience negotiating engineering and construction contracts with the contractors who will ultimately prepare the site and install the power generation and transmission facilities.
Our projects generate clean power for decades and require ongoing oversight and management. We work to optimize production, maximizing revenue for landowners and other project stakeholders.