Louisiana — McDonald’s and eBay announced agreements with Lightsource bp to purchase power from what will be Louisiana’s largest solar project, located 30 miles northwest of Baton Rouge in Pointe Coupee Parish.
The 345 megawatt Ventress Solar project will help McDonald’s and eBay meet their sustainability goals and advance their commitment to climate action while growing Lightsource bp’s expanding footprint of solar assets across the Southeast. Once complete, the project will generate over 600,000 megawatt-hours (MWh) of clean energy annually, equivalent to the average annual consumption of 59,000 US homes.
“As one of the world’s largest restaurant companies, McDonald’s is uniquely positioned to help spur significant action around climate change,” said Emma Cox, Global Renewable Energy Lead at McDonald’s. “Our renewable energy deal with Lightsource bp will not only create Louisiana’s largest solar project and serve as the latest milestone in making significant progress toward our science-based emissions reduction target for 2030, but also demonstrate our belief that meaningful solutions to building a sustainable future require partnership and collaboration.”
“At eBay, investing in clean energy remains a focus of our business as we aim to attain 100 percent renewable energy by 2025,” said Renee Morin, Chief Sustainability Officer, eBay. “This project enables us to source the clean energy equivalent of our data center. Our collaboration with Lightsource bp and McDonald’s uniquely propels our shared goal to accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy.”
Construction is expected to begin as early as the end of this year on the Ventress Solar farm, with commercial operation starting in mid-2023. Lightsource bp is developing the project and will be the long-term owner and operator.
“This agreement is a great example of the teamwork needed to achieve our mutual goals for a healthier, more sustainable and resilient planet and economy for generations to come,” said Kevin Smith, CEO of the Americas for Lightsource bp. “Customer aggregation deals such as this allow businesses of varying sizes and energy needs to come together and spur meaningful development of clean and affordable energy sources in the US. This collaborative agreement by McDonald’s and eBay is a model we hope others will replicate.”
Local economic benefits beyond reducing greenhouse gas pollution
Beyond improving the health and energy security of communities across America, large-scale solar projects help strengthen local economies. Construction of the over $300 million privately funded solar farm will:
Create approximately 400 construction jobs for 15-18 months, comprised primarily of local labor
Provide an estimated $30 million dollar boost to Pointe Coupee Parish over the project life – providing additional funding for schools, fire departments, libraries and health services – without a tax increase on its citizens
Deliver an indirect economic impact of over $200 million, according to a study by the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, an economic development agency supporting the nine-parish Baton Rouge Area
“This project is exciting news for our parish,” said Major Thibaut, Pointe Coupee Parish President. “It brings the largest economic development project to the area in thirty years, with minimal impact on our infrastructure. The participation in the PILOT program means approximately $30 million in revenue for parish government, law enforcement and school system without an increase in taxes on our residents.”
Dual-use solar – maximizing benefits to the environment and local community
With proper planning and land management, solar farms can increase biodiversity and improve local ecosystems. A long-term environmental action plan is underway for Ventress Solar that aims to maximize local sustainability benefits through habitat creation and co-located agriculture to farm the land while also harnessing solar energy.
CustomerFirst Renewables and 3Degrees, representing McDonald’s and eBay respectively, partnered to advise the buyer aggregation during the transaction, and Ballard Spahr led negotiations on behalf of the buyers.