In a previous article, Pima County’s Solar Power Math, I reported “Pima County has agreed to buy $22 million worth of solar-produced electricity over a period of 20 years from Solon Development, a local company which received a no-bid contract from the County.”
I characterized Solon Development as a local company because it was so reported in the (always accurate?) Arizona Daily Star. But some research by me and ADI staff raises some questions.
The entity “Solon Development, LLC” was created on April 17, 2015. The County contract was let on May 5, 2015. Amazing how fast the County can work. What went on to make that happen so fast?
While “Solon Development” may technically be local, it is actually Solon Development, LLC a subsidiary of Solon Corporation, a German company. According to Solon Corporation website, their legal address is SOLON Energy GmbH, Am Studio 16, 12489 Berlin, Germany.
Also on their website, they brag: “Founded in 2007, SOLON Corporation is a subsidiary of the SOLON Group, a leading international provider of solar solutions for residential, commercial and utility-scale applications. The SOLON Group, one of oldest pure play solar companies in operation, was established in 1997 and operates subsidiaries in Germany, Italy, Australia, India and the U.S.”
Solon would seem to have a great deal of experience. So why did they go bankrupt? According to a story in Greentech Media, “Solon joined Solyndra, Evergreen Solar, and SpectraWatt in 2011’s bankruptcy pool.” But that’s not all. The story goes on to say “The next chapter in the Solon saga was announced today [March 6, 2012]. Microsol, a vertically integrated United Arab Emirates (UAE)-based cell, module and system manufacturer, acquired “essential components of the insolvent Solon SE and its subsidiaries, including U.S.-based Solon Corporation.”
So, our very own local company is not so local.
Pima County anticipates a savings on electricity expenditures of $4.5 million over the 20-year span. In my original story I wondered how the “County’s crystal ball is able to tell them when and by how much TEP will raise its prices.” Well, it turns out, the County doesn’t have a crystal ball, Solon does. All the figures the County used were provided by Solon. They guessed at what Tucson Electric Power would be charging in the future. A call to TEP revealed that even TEP doesn’t know what they will be charging. Solon guesses are shown in the chart below. Also, it is unclear if Solon is taking into account that solar panels typically produce only about 20% of their rated capacity. Remember, these guesses are from a company that went bankrupt.