Texas Map

Past

Jonathan Butcher, Matthew Baird, and Jos Nicholas founded BNB Renewable Energy Holdings in 2004 to develop clean-energy power plants in the United States and Canada. Stephen Westerberg joined the team in 2008, becoming a partner in 2009.

Initially, BNB focused on acquiring acreage for wind farming in West Texas, where Matthew Baird and Co., the family holding company that Baird also manages, has maintained real estate interests dating back to the construction of the Texas and Pacific Railway, in 1871. It was on that land, in Borden County, that we began efforts to construct our first project, Bull Creek Wind farm, in 2005. Over the following 15 months, BNB leased 60,000 acres of land, erected five meteorological towers, secured interconnection rights-of-way and transmission easements, filed for tax abatement, and retained all necessary permits for a 184MW wind farm. BNB sold Bull Creek, which came online in December 2008, to Tokyo Electric Power through its subsidiary Eurus Energy America. BNB retained a gross proceeds interest in the project and continues to be closely involved in Bull Creek. 

In summer 2008, in the midst of the financial crisis and in an environment of restricted credit for U.S. utility-scale renewable energy projects, BNB launched its distributed generation efforts to pursue onsite renewable energy development with quality-rated Fortune 500 companies. In January 2009, BNB was retained by Campbell Soup Co. to analyze its U.S. facilities and help determine which ones were suited to onsite renewable generation. We identified six potential sites, and Campbell prioritized one of them for immediate development: its production facility at Napoleon, Ohio, the largest food-production plant in the world. BNB subsequently developed a 9.8MW solar array on that property. At the time it was commissioned, in December 2011, it was the largest inside-the-fence solar array built for any U.S. corporation, supplying 15 percent of the plant's annual energy needs.

The ground-mounted, single-axis tracking system was manufactured by San Jose-based SunPower, which also provided engineering, procurement and construction services. Shortly after commencement of construction, BNB executed a co-development agreement with Enfinity America Corp., which, along with Wells Fargo, provided term financing for the project. FirstEnergy Solutions, of Akron, Ohio, purchased all of the Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs) produced by the array, and Campbell Soup Co., through a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA), acquired 100 percent of the power generated. Based on U.S. Department of Energy projections, Campbell estimates that, over the course of the PPA, it will save about $4 million on electricity costs and eliminate 250,000 metric tons of CO2 that would have otherwise been emitted by fossil fuel generation.

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Present

The deployment of the 9.8MW array at Napoleon, Ohio, marked a significant milestone for BNB, launching its distributed generation initiative. We began building upon our success at Napoleon almost immediately. In May 2012, after a competitive request for proposals, Campbell Soup Co. — which hopes to source 40 percent of its energy use from renewables by 2020 — awarded BNB the right to develop 16 renewable energy projects at 14 of its North American facilities. That portfolio, which we are in the process of developing, includes five solar arrays, two wind farms, and, with our partner, CH4 Biogas, up to eight biogas facilities.

BNB and CH4 are currently constructing the first of these biogas projects: a 2.8MW generator adjacent to Campbell's Napoleon solar array. BNB, recognizing the importance of a diversity of generation types, has embraced a renewable energy strategy that includes wind, solar, and biogas. CH4, whose team has built 40 facilities worldwide, has the most efficient technology available for electric generation from biogas.

Work continues on BNB's Texas acreage. Since May 2006, BNB has been collecting wind data in Borden, Lynn, Dawson, and Garza counties, with 11 meteorological towers on various leases. On that property, we are developing two wind farms, each of 250MW, and two solar arrays, together totaling in excess of 200MW. Those development activities are located in Competitive Renewable Energy Zone (CREZ) 9A, encompassing two of the top 25 sites in Texas for wind development, as identified by the Texas Public Utility Commission (PUC). BNB is also developing a massive solar site in the far western tip of the ERCOT grid.

In 2006, BNB was one of the 11 original interveners in the Texas Public Utility Commission's CREZ proceedings. In April 2008, the PUC approved what would become a $7 billion upgrade consisting of new lines dedicated to carrying wind and solar energy from West Texas to load centers in Dallas, San Antonio, and Austin. As a result of these proceedings, the new Long Draw substation has been constructed adjacent to BNB's leases, allowing an injection of renewable generation.

Camden

Future

In 2009, BNB established a five-year goal of bringing an additional gigawatt of renewable energy to the U.S. market, and we have made significant progress in that regard. BNB projects already generate in excess of 200MW of renewable energy, and, with projects in construction and projects in development in Ohio, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Florida, Utah, Illinois, and Texas, we have an additional 1,200MW in the pipeline. With the installed cost of solar continuing to fall as electricity rates rise, "grid parity" may be around the corner for those areas of the country with a strong solar resource. With its development efforts in Mexico and Texas, BNB is committed to participating in this sea change in the way electricity is generated, priced, and consumed. Further, because reducing carbon and combating climate change ultimately have no borders, BNB has plans to spread their influence internationally, starting with the formation of BNB Mexico Holdings LLC. The constitutional reforms now being enacted in Mexico will significantly grow the renewable energy market for independent power producers, and BNB Mexico is currently in talks with industry partners and landowners to acquire sites for the development of renewable energy in Mexico in the next three years.

Based on a successful and fruitful partnership with Campbell, BNB's interest in distributed generation has intensified. We are currently working with several Fortune 500 companies to develop user-hosted, utility-scale renewable plants on sites across the country, deploying wind, solar, and biogas generators at no capital expenditure to the host company. With distributed generation, host companies get the benefits of renewable energy — in particular long-term price stabilization and savings — without having to shoulder its inherent financial and operational risks. Our process is completely transparent. We work closely with our host companies' engineering groups to develop systems that match the specific needs of any given site.

In our 10 years developing renewable energy projects, we have become known for our reliability and performance, delivering turnkey, utility-grade plants on time and on budget and at grid-parity pricing.