Located in Woodbourne, New York, the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Ranch is an educational facility that teaches yoga to instructors who come from across the world to learn. The Yoga Ranch promotes yoga not only as a tool for peace, but as a way to connect people to each other and the environment. As part of those teachings, the ashram has always worked to be as sustainable as possible in all areas of its operation, including on-premises food production and teaching attendees how they can help the planet. The ranch’s new 93-kW solar carport perfectly aligns with that long-standing commitment and will offset virtually all of the ashram’s electrical needs.
While the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Ranch was deeply committed to the goal of going solar, the economics of the project were far from straightforward. In order to help this client, RER Energy Group partnered with its sister financing company Sunvestment Energy Group to develop a community power purchase agreement (CPPA), leveraging community stakeholders in the financing effort. The CPPA combined a traditional PPA funding structure with community-sourced funders that enabled the Yoga Ranch to reduce overall project costs, and reap real savings from their array.
As a first step, the Yoga Ranch held several fundraisers to help finance a ‘prepayment on the energy’ that would serve as a down payment on the array with donations from their community of stakeholders. This initial pre-payment effectively brought down the amount of ‘traditional capital’ required to fund construction, increasing the electricity cost savings to the ranch.
The balance of funds for the project came from a PPA, in which a third-party makes the investment to build and own the array, selling the electricity to the user at a substantially reduced rate. In this case, the PPA financiers were motivated to help the Yoga Ranch move forward with their goal of going solar, and were willing to provide this financing at an attractive rate, contributing to the energy savings that the Yoga Ranch was able to achieve by going solar with a CPPA.
This PPA arrangement will enable the Ashram to benefit from lower-cost renewable energy for a 13-year contract period before the ownership is transferred to the Yoga Ranch. In addition, by engaging their community of stakeholders directly in this important project, the Yoga Ranch strengthened ties to their community, enabling all to share in the satisfaction of contributing to this important initiative for the organization.
RER Energy Group was instrumental in developing this unique Community PPA to help finance the project. Jim Kurtz, President of RER Energy Group (RER), positions the Community PPA as both a philanthropic and investment opportunity for civic-minded individuals and organizations.
“It’s just like investing in a piece of equipment which creates value for a factory,” Kurtz says. “Here, we’re putting the equipment—the solar array—on the unused roof or ground space to capture the sun’s energy and create more value than the original cost of the system.”
RER Energy Group is making these renewable energy projects available to those who may not have had access to or knowledge of them in the past. Recruiting such like-minded, community-oriented donors and investors will enable the Yoga Ranch to reduce its carbon footprint, lower their electricity costs and inspire others to do the same.
News item from RER Energy Group