Nautilus Solar secures $39m funding for Ontario DG project

New Jersey-based renewable energy developer Nautilus Solar Energy LLC has secured US$39 million in funding for the development of a suite of distributed generation (DG) solar projects in the Canadian province of Ontario.

Funding for the 8 MW project comes via a term loan from Rabobank Group and will be co-developed by Moose Power Inc. Several community cooperatives in Ontario are also involved in the development of the DG plants, which are to be located close to the communities and customers that will consume the solar energy produced.

The deal is the first of its kind for Nautilus, which was attracted to the Ontario market largely because of the availability of the province’s feed-in tariff (FIT), which guarantees above-market rates for selling clean energy.

According to Nautilus CEO Jim Rice, should this project prove successful the company may seek to use this financing model for future large-scale and commercial-scale solar developments. "Everybody’s hope would be that now that we’ve built this structure, we could go up from 8 MW to, say, 20 MW," Rice told Bloomberg. "It’s being driven by this [feed-in] tariff program."

Further backing was also forthcoming from community investors Green Energy Co-operative (GECO), Eagle Lake First Nation and Ontario Inc., while NewWorld Environmental Infrastructure LP and North Sky CleanTech Alliance Fund LP also provided equity investments.

"The deal Nautilus has secured with Rabobank and with community parktners GECO and Eagle Lake First Nation demonstrates that complex transactions can get done, setting the stage for more such financings in the future," added Rice.

The deal is one of the largest financings to be executed in Canada to date that focuses on investment in local community cooperatives working in clean energy.