Hickory Solar Park

EDP Renewables North America and Volt Energy Utility Announce Solar Project with Microsoft Focused on Environmental Justice & Resiliency Building

Tuesday 19, March 2024

Move Highlights the Power of Integrating Social Equity into the U.S. Energy Transition

Houston, Texas, March 19, 2024EDP Renewables North America (EDPR NA) and Volt Energy Utility,  announced a partnership today launching the development of Hickory Solar Park (Hickory), a 110 MWac photovoltaic (PV) project located near Jerseyville, Illinois. Microsoft has agreed to purchase electricity and renewable energy credits (RECs) for fifteen years from the project. This arrangement drives concrete action toward the three companies’ shared commitment to an equitable and just transition of the electric power sector.[i]

The agreement for Hickory uses an Environmental Justice PPA (EJ PPA) form developed by Microsoft and Volt Energy, a minority-owned renewable energy developer, focused on making clean energy investments in rural and urban communities disproportionately impacted by environmental injustices – all of whom are behind in securing the benefits of a clean energy economy. 

With this EJ PPA, Hickory will contribute funding to enable the Sharing the Power Foundation to administer funds to mission-aligned programs. The Foundation’s mission is to build the next generation of environment justice leaders through the equitable distribution of opportunities produced by the clean energy economy – all in alignment with the social equity principles of the Environmental Justice PPA.

From engaging with community members and local government officials to local organizations and businesses, the Hickory project is oriented to focus on ensuring sustainable environmental, social, and economic results are achieved.

The project company will purchase and retire carbon offsets proportionate to the emissions generated by its upstream material components and on-site construction and operations impacts as part of a project-level carbon neutrality pledge. 

To empower the creation of career pathways and training under the partnership, EDPR NA has also committed to ensuring that women and minority-owned businesses serve in prominent leadership roles in project management and construction for Hickory. This adds to EDPR NA’s move to empower workforce development in Illinois through last year’s unveiling of its solar and wind technical training facility in Bloomington, IL.  

“Aligning efforts with partners who share our passion for implementing equitable strategies contributing to local community growth is front and center of importance to us,” stated Sandhya Ganapathy, CEO, EDPR NA. “Together with Microsoft and Volt, we have the opportunity to prioritize people first by creating jobs and opening doors to women and minority-owned businesses who need to be involved in driving a just clean energy future.”

“We are excited to continue our work with Microsoft and partner with EDPR NA for the first time to address environmental injustice, invest in clean energy infrastructure, and facilitate clean energy and sustainability business pathways for minority-owned entrepreneurs and small businesses, as well as students looking to start a career,” added Gilbert Campbell, Founder & CEO of Volt Energy Utility, and Foundation Board Chair for the Sharing The Power Foundation

“We are pleased to work with EDP Renewables and Volt Energy in reducing our environmental impact, and helping under-resourced communities build climate resilience,” noted Kourtney Nelson, Senior Director of Renewable Energy Procurement, Microsoft. 

This contract expands on EDPR NA and Microsoft’s collaboration that started in July 2019 when Microsoft became an offtaker of EDPR NA’s 125MW Timber Road IV Wind Farm located in Payne, Ohio. In addition to the Hickory announcement, Microsoft also recently executed power purchase agreements at EDPR’s Wolf Run Solar Park (140MWac, Illinois) and Cattlemen Solar Park II (150MWac, Texas). The projects are currently expected to be operational by the end of 2024.  

EDPR NA’s continued focus in 2024 remains on engaging diverse customers, supply chain partners, and local EPCs and developers who share its passion for a united and inclusive clean energy industry. 

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About EDP Renewables North America (EDPR NA)
EDP Renewables North America LLC (EDPR NA), its affiliates, and its subsidiaries develop, construct, own, and operate wind farms, solar parks, and energy storage systems throughout North America. Headquartered in Houston, Texas, with 60 wind farms, 13 solar parks, and eight regional offices across North America, EDPR NA has developed more than 10,100 megawatts (MW) and operates more than 9,100 MW of onshore utility-scale renewable energy projects. With more than 1,000 employees, EDPR NA’s highly qualified team has a proven capacity to execute projects across the continent.
For more information, visit www.edpr.com/north-america and follow us on LinkedIn

About EDP Renewables
EDP Renewables (Euronext: EDPR) is a global leader in renewable energy development with a presence in 28 regions in Europe, North America, South America and Asia-Pacific. With headquarters in Madrid and leading regional offices in Houston, São Paulo and Singapore, EDPR has a sound development portfolio of top-level assets and market-leading operating capacity in renewable energies. Particularly worthy of note are onshore wind, distributed and large-scale solar, offshore wind (OW - through a 50/50 joint venture), and technologies to complement renewables such as storage and green hydrogen. 
EDPR's employee-centered policies have received recognition such as Top Workplace 2023 in the USA, Top Employer 2023 in Europe (Spain, Italy, France, Romania, Greece, Portugal, and Poland) Colombia, and Brazil, and are also included in the Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index. 
EDPR is a division of EDP (Euronext: EDP), a leader in the energy transition with a focus on decarbonization. Besides its strong presence in renewables (with EDPR and hydro operations), EDP has an integrated utility presence in Portugal, Spain, and Brazil including electricity networks, client solutions, and energy management. EDP – EDPR’s main shareholder – has been listed on the Dow Jones Index for 16 consecutive years, recently being named the most sustainable electricity company on the Index.
About Volt
Volt Energy Utility, LLC (www.voltenergyutility.com), is a national African-American-owned utility-scale solar development firm. Volt was on the forefront of creating the Environmental Justice Power Purchase Agreement with Microsoft, through which utility–scale solar projects can produce a funding stream to support environmental justice and clean energy causes in urban and rural areas. Volt established the Sharing the Power Foundation (www.sharingthepower.org) which, as an independent 501c3 entity, supports organizations that serve urban and rural communities addressing environmental justice issues and creating access to participate in the clean energy economy.

Media contacts

Eric Grant
Volt Energy Utility, LLC
E: egrant@voltenergyutility.com 

Tom Weirich 
EDP Renewables North America (EDPR NA) & EDPR Canada Ltd. (EDPR Canada)
E: thomas.weirich@edp.com   

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[i] These projects and PPAs were previously announced to the market in accordance with EU securities law.