Commercial Solar Design’s Landowner 20 MW Solar Farm Development Program

Commercial Solar Design is developing a number of 20MWp PV optimum energy plant that takes into account:

  • financial renewable energy incentives
  • cost of land
  • availability & technology of PV panels and other components
  • site location with solar incidence as detailed in NASA tables.

Sites that qualify will have the following characteristics and have been properly reviewed for connection consistent with PUC regulations. A plant will have the following characteristics:

  • Plant size: 20MWp AC
  • Land use size: 140-160+/- acres depending on land characteristics
  • Plant Energy Generation: 45 million kWh/year; (location dependent)
  • Solar PV: 84,000 μc modules with 280Wp rating; 40 x 500kW inverters
  • Single Axis tracking system with central controllers and automated stow
  • Life of plant: 30 years minimum


Commercial Solar Design, LLC (CSD) has compiled this project program to assist interested landowners and inventors in participating in the solar farm industry opportunities. Many landowners have the property but not the means to install a 20MWp AC solar farm. After studying what landowners prefer and need from such a project, CSD put together a package to meet the needs of the landowner and the investor group. The utility, landowner, investor group all win.

Using best of breed solar system components and a 85% after 25 year power production guarantee CSD has set the stage for many landowners to participate in the solar farm RAM (reverse auction mechanism) program. A Special Purpose Vehicle LLC (“SPV”) will be created for this solar PV plant.
This proposal describes specific tasks to be completed with this project overview. Work performed are tasks leading up to the securing of a PPA agreement with the utility at a favorable rate consistent with the proposed Solar Farm and expected financial projections for this project shown in summary financial documents which will be provided in another document.


CSD provides the knowledge of the U.S. market for solar energy generation, including the regulatory environment, taxation policies, geography, and governmental regulations. At present, CSD is developing solar PV farms in the Southwestern U.S. market, Colorado and other states.

In the past, CSD has also worked with European investors on large utility scale MWp project proposals and has associates in Europe that have developed these multi-MWp Solar PV farms.

The CSD program is designed to develop 20MWp AC Solar PV Energy plants in California, with a levered IRR of 12-17% for a SPV LLC created for this project. It is important to note that IRR is different from ROI because IRR discounts the future value of money whereas ROI does not.
Determining the correct solar farm design, the correct costing of components for completing the solar farm, and securing a PPA in the California solar PV farm RAM program are keys to attaining the best return on investment for the owners of this solar farm.

The process of securing a site that can be permitted and has utility lines with sufficient capacity is a critical component to any solar farm in the 20MWp space.

This document describes in some detail the use of Project Funds for the Pre-Construction development phase of the proposed 20MWp PV plants. Subsequent to the securing of a PPA, construction will begin when the balance of the project funds are secured for a plant completion.

An Early Stage investment of $550-775K (See Attachment A) is required to pursue permitting and a PPA agreement and connection agreement producing an investor IRR as described. Since RAM rules require a viability and land control component the CUP (conditional use permit) is a vital link to the project. This program begins by focusing on land use issues.

We encourage the landowner to complete three steps at the beginning of the project.

  1. Visit the local building department and speak with a planner about a 140+ acre project. Determine if the general plan has accommodations for a solar farm and what the process and costs are associated with the project. In some counties it is a rubber stamp process. In other counties it is very involved. Some counties are currently rewriting their general plans to accommodate solar farm projects.
  2. Investigate the 100 year flood plain level as pertains to their proposed site. If your land is in a 100 year flood plain it is unlikely that you can get insurance coverage for the solar farm. (NOTE: Consider the panels have a 25 year power production warranty and no one knows how long they will continue producing. I have spoken to individuals who have had panels for over 20 years and they are still producing the same energy they did when new. From an insurance perspective the 100 year flood plain is a deal breaker for sites within that zone)
  3. Interconnection to the utility power lines is critical and here are a few facts to check out.
    1. Which utility serves your site location. Is it an IOU (investor owned utility) or a CO-OP.
    2. What size/type are the line over or adjacent to your property
    3. How far is the nearest substation
    4. Do the lines have additional capacity to accommodate your solar farm’s additional power load

The answers to these questions and many more will be determined in the initial feasibility study.

Commercial Solar Design’s program addresses this problem in several ways as described in this outline.

  • Owner participates directly with Commercial Solar Design in the development stage. Owner’s participation includes a modest $550-775K to cover permitting, application fees and other costs. The majority of this cost is a utility deposit of $20K/MW applied for. Ex. 20MWp application requires $400K deposit.
  • CSD provides the framework and legal and professional work required to complete the initial development work so a project is shovel ready. By working together the landowner keeps cost down but more importantly participates in the upside of the project well beyond a simple lease payment.
  • When the project is at a certain stage CSD begins offering it to investment groups who are positioned to invest but not operate the solar farm project. These groups come in and do the heavy lifting financially by providing the construction funds etc.
  • When the project funds the landowner receives his initial capital outlay back 2x. The land lease is negotiated at an attractive rate and the landowner receives an equity position in the project. The long term equity position is of great value but can also be negotiated as a onetime net present value buyout.
  • Another option for 20MWp solar farms includes the scenario where the land is owned by an individual or investor group who fund the entire project internally and CSD provides turnkey services from permitting to interconnection and ongoing O&M.

Commercial Solar Design © 2010

About Sy Richardson

Sy Richardson brings years of high level client interaction. He is an expert in strategic thinking, problem solving, negotiation and logistics. His first solar company was started in the 80s in Miami Fl where his company installed over 3,000 residential solar systems. In 2008 Mr. Richardson refocused on utility scale solar projects and has many connections in the industry. He founded Commercial Solar Design, a company focused solely on solar farm development projects. Sy is involved in all stages of the solar farm project life. Sy is currently the Executive VP of EternaTile, Inc. EternaTile has completed 6 years of R&D and is now the best performing roofing system on the market. The EternaTile fully integrated BIPV Roofing System will follow later in 2016. The patented EternaTile Roofing System takes rooftop performance and integrates solar PV to the next level by encapsulating solar cells in the roofing tiles. The integrated solar delivers a beautiful rooftop solar solution as compared to mounted solar panels. Contact Sy or visit for more info. He loves working with the Maine Island Trail Association, and other earth friendly organizations. He has a wealth of information regarding solar and industrial technical issues. Specialties: Utility Scale Solar Farm Projects Distributed Utility Pre-Construction Development CAISO Interconnection Application Review
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