FAQs

General

What is R3 Renewables?

R3 Renewables is committed to developing and building grid-scale reliable renewable generation. State-of-the-art solar and storage technology allows us to repurpose the land previously used for coal mining to deliver clean and reliable power. We are committed to helping local communities thrive by creating jobs, adding to the tax base, and revitalizing the land for a bright energy future.

Who owns R3 Renewables?

R3 Renewables was formed in 2022 as a joint venture between Peabody Energy, Riverstone Credit Partners, and Summit Partners Credit Advisors.

What level of experience and expertise does the R3 Renewables team offer?

R3 Renewables is led by a management team responsible for building more than 14 GW of energy projects, including nearly 6 GW of renewable energy projects, across North America. Our leadership and core management team has strong industry knowledge and investment experience, with more than 100 years of collective experience developing, financing, and building similar projects.

Why build a solar project in this area?

Over the past 5 years solar power has become one of the most cost-competitive forms of electricity in the US and is now the largest source of new energy. Our sites were chosen because of their ability to be repurposed from former coal mining land, their proximity to transmission infrastructure to connect to the grid, and the desire for additional forms of generation in the region.

Does solar make sense in an area that is not always sunny?

It is a common misconception that solar projects only work in climates where there is abundant sunshine. Solar panels do not require perfectly sunny weather to generate electricity. As photovoltaic (PV) technology continues to become more efficient, it enables solar projects to generate energy even in the absence of strong, direct sunlight.

Where will the electricity be delivered?

Like the other large power projects in our project areas, the power from our projects will be delivered into the local grid, serving customers across the region.

What type of agreements do you use for your projects?

R3 Renewables uses a standard form of solar lease for solar PV areas and a standard form of easement for transmission or collection only areas. We generally reimburse attorney fees so that landowners are able to make sure they have had appropriate legal guidance and representation before signing a lease.

How are land agents connected to R3 Renewables?

Experienced land agents with knowledge of their project areas are employed as direct contractors of R3 Renewables. They assist us by connecting face-to-face with as many landowners as possible. Connecting with landowners to discuss solar leases and easement details is an important part of early development during which we are able to learn about a community. Landowners can also always reach out to R3 directly through [email protected].

What is the lifespan of a typical solar project?

Solar projects typically operate for 35 to 40 years.

Do solar projects pay taxes?

Yes. Tax amounts vary by project size and jurisdiction, but solar projects support the local economy through annual property taxes, benefitting schools, roads, and other important infrastructure services.

What criteria are considered in selecting the land?

The most suitable locations for solar projects are large areas of open land with minimal slope and minimal wetlands. Agricultural and grazing land often best fits these criteria. Because preservation of agricultural land is important to many landowners, and the company’s strong relationship with the mining industry, R3 Renewables’ goal is to repurpose formerly mined land into solar energy and battery storage projects and reduce the amount of additional prime agricultural land taken out of production.

Are tax dollars used in the construction of your projects?

Our projects will receive investment tax credits, including bonuses, for paying a Prevailing Wage, providing training programs, being located in an Energy Community (an area where coal mines have closed or coal generation units have retired), and for use of domestically manufactured materials.

How does solar benefit my community?

Large-scale solar projects represent several hundred-million-dollar capital investments, which result in significant increases in local property tax bases. Throughout development, construction, and operations, solar projects result in widespread direct and indirect job creation and economic investment, such as: lease and easement payments to participating landowners over the life of the project, local jobs both during construction and operations, and local services like hotels, gas stations, and restaurants during construction, and millions of dollars in tax revenue.

Will locals be able to participate in the construction jobs or supply goods?

R3 Renewables and its investors have a long relationship with and commitment to the communities hosting our projects. We will actively pursue local vendors and job seekers during development, and we will provide a list of interested applicants to the engineering, procurement, and construction companies that are selected to develop and construct our projects.

Do solar projects decrease property values?

No. Studies that have been performed on solar facilities show no impact to neighboring home values after solar facility installation. Solar projects also make good neighbors. Panels are typically shorter than 12 feet high and the systems are quiet, limiting the impact on our neighbors.

Are your projects meant to replace coal mining in the project areas?

Our projects are meant to provide jobs and tax base in areas affected by local coal generation retirements and the related impact on the mining community.

Construction

What does construction look like and how long does it take?

The general contractor will mobilize on site to first commence civil work and prepare the site by clearing brush, some tree clearing, grading, surveying, and staking. Several weeks into the civil phase, they will commence driving posts into the ground for the solar tracking system. About a month into the posts driving phase, they will commence the installation of the tracking system. Once enough tracking is installed, the general contractor will commence solar panel deliveries and mounting. During this phase, the general contractor will also be trenching the electrical systems throughout the solar panel array, leading back to the project substation. Once all those phases are complete and the solar panels are electrically connected, testing will take place to verify proper operation. Once all tests are complete, the solar panel system will be operational and begin supplying clean, renewable energy to the local grid.

Who will be responsible for building your projects?

R3 Renewables will oversee the construction of each project via contracting with a reputable and experienced engineering, procurement, and construction firm.

How will my land be impacted during construction?

We strive to minimize impacts to the land during construction to the greatest extent possible. Most of the impacts during construction are temporary and will be restored upon completion of construction. We will work with farmers to minimize impacts to crops, tiling, and other farming operations and will be closely tracking and documenting any special landowner requests or deviations to ensure compliance during construction activities.

Should we expect additional traffic during construction?

During construction, there will be additional traffic in the area as construction of the solar farm will require heavy equipment, which could include bulldozers, graders, trenching machines, concrete trucks, and flatbed trucks. Once construction of the solar panel farm is complete and the project is operational, traffic will return to its preconstruction levels.

How will you address damage to drainage and tile?

During the planning phase of each project, land agents will meet with landowners to identify drain tile areas. In areas where drain tiles cannot be avoided, we will work with landowners to minimize impacts during construction. We will compensate landowners for any drainage tile that is damaged as a result of project activity. Landowners will have the option of utilizing a local contractor of their choosing or the project construction contractor to make any repairs to drain tiles resulting from the project’s construction activities.

If public roads are damaged during construction, how and when are they repaired?

All public roads that are expected to be utilized during construction are documented and analyzed to capture the existing condition of the roadways before commencing construction activities. All public roads impacted by the construction of the project will be returned to the same or better condition after construction activities. R3 Renewables will work with local officials to come to an agreement on road use and repairs.

Will construction of your solar projects impact home foundations or water wells?

No. Post installations are approximately 10 feet deep, and any compaction or soil vibration is limited to the immediate area around the posts. All project facilities are set back from neighboring structures, so damage to home foundations, water wells, undergrounding piping, or other improvements is neither expected nor likely. R3 Renewables and its contractors will work with nearby homeowners to mitigate any temporary disruption during construction.

Will your projects be impacted by subsidence or settlement from mining activities?

R3 Renewables will conduct geotechnical, subsidence and settlement studies and analyses and will design the project facilities to ensure that they are constructed securely. Efforts to minimize the impact of subsidence and settlement will include planning construction to avoid areas of excessive soil movement, detailed post design, and proper grading and drainage design.

Environmental & Visual Aesthetics

Are solar projects visible?

Typical panels range from approximately 10 feet above grade when horizontal to a maximum height of 15 feet when fully vertical. Panels will be set back from roads and residences. So, although projects may be visible from adjacent and nearby roads, the overall visual impact will be minimized. The projects will be fenced and vegetive screening that complies with all local requirements will be used in sight of residences and along public roads.

Do solar panels cause glare?

Panels utilize non-reflective coating and are designed to be a dark color, usually black or blue, in order to absorb sunlight to create electricity. If panels reflected the sun, they would not be effective. The panels will also be on trackers, keeping them pointed toward the sun and greatly reducing any glare at ground level.

Will your projects have fencing and if so, what kind?

Because solar projects are energy generation facilities, they are required to be fenced for insurance and security reasons. The fences are traditional chain-link design, a minimum of 6 feet in height and topped with security measures.

Will you plant vegetative screening?

We will make commercially reasonable efforts to provide screening along residences, public roads, and as otherwise required by any local requirements.

Do solar projects impact the natural environment in the area?

Through careful site selection, project design, and use of best management practices during construction and operations, our solar projects are designed to minimize impacts to the natural environment, including wildlife, habitat, and important aquatic resources. By using agricultural fields and avoiding wetlands and forested areas, the projects will have minimal disturbance to important habitats for most species. R3 Renewables will work with local governmental and environmental agencies to implement any required design or mitigation measures.

Do solar panels or projects impact the soil or groundwater? Do they affect water runoff on participating or adjacent properties?

Solar panels do not produce any harmful discharge or runoff into the soil, air, or water. Furthermore, federal, state, and local rules are in place to ensure that the solar panels are installed in ways that protect public water supplies, wetlands, and other water resources. Proper maintenance of the onsite equipment is standard and an important aspect of the long-term management of a solar facility.

What are the risks to birds from solar generation?

Solar projects pose a very low risk to birds. Recent media attention has focused on heat-related bird deaths at some generating facilities, which are related to other solar technologies, such as concentrated solar as opposed to solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, which will be used on our projects.

How much water is needed for a solar project?

Water requirements of solar projects are small, mostly for dust control during construction. One of the great aspects of our project areas is the annual rainfall that they receive. Rain is a wonderful solar panel cleaning agent, and we do not anticipate needing to wash the solar panels often.

Do solar projects affect farming operations?

Solar projects are compatible with other land uses, which may be explored in the future. Presently, the land on which our projects are sited will be exclusively used for the solar facility during construction and operations. Solar projects provide landowners with stable, weather-resistant cash flow through lease payments. After the end of the operations period, our projects will be decommissioned and the land will be returned to its pre-construction state, or as otherwise required by applicable permits and bonds.

How will this project impact current mining activities?

The projects are being built on reclaimed land where mining has concluded, so they should not impact any current or future mining activities.

Can solar projects withstand storms?

Typical solar projects are designed to withstand storm events that create strong wind, rain, and hail. If a storm damages a solar project, we will respond swiftly.

Will you put vegetation management plans in place?

Vegetation is encouraged to grow under the solar panels. However, the height needs to be kept under 2 feet to prevent shading of the solar panels. Vegetation maintenance will be accomplished primarily by mowing. Some spot treatments of taller growing vegetation, under the panels only, may be required.

What does the inside of a solar panel consist of? Are the panels toxic?

Solar panels largely consist of widely used and non-toxic components, including an aluminum frame, tempered glass, solar cells, glue, an electrical junction box, and various common plastics. The most common type of solar panel is made of crystalline silicon PV cells, which generate electricity when exposed to light. These non-toxic crystalline silicon cells consist almost entirely of silicon, one of the most common elements in the Earth’s crust. If you are interested in the detailed composition, we can provide more details from solar panel manufacturers.

Technology, Material, and Safety

What is the typical height of solar panels?

Solar panels typically have a maximum height of approximately 15 feet above grade when fully vertical.

Will you use concrete foundations throughout your project areas?

Concrete will be used at the project substations as an equipment pad for the main transformers and as the foundations for the substation control building. The use of concrete in the solar panel array area will be very minimal.

Should I be concerned about EMF or radiation from solar panels?

All electrical and electronic devices create electromagnetic fields (EMF), but the amount emitted by a solar project is no more than you may experience from items you use every day within your household, such as computers, appliances, or cell phones. Studies show that the exposure level from EMF at the fenced boundary of the project falls well below recommended exposure limits. The EMF levels decrease even more as you move away from the fence line and are nonexistent at night, when the system is not producing energy. Ultimately, EMF from solar projects is extremely insignificant.

Do the solar panels generate noise?

The National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) has conducted several studies that demonstrated that the noise levels generated by inverters and tracking motors are not audible above ambient noise at the fence line of the facility. Solar panels themselves are 100% silent.

Do local fire departments need special equipment in case of a fire?

No special equipment is needed to handle solar panel fires, just proper training. Prior to construction commencement, we will ensure that the local fire department is aware of the installation and informed about the procedures for de-electrifying the system and responding to incidents. Also, battery systems are equipped with fire detection/suppression systems, which first responders will also be aware of from their training.

Do you put decommissioning plans in place?

Prior to starting construction, we will put a decommissioning plan in place for each project. These plans will include the removal of infrastructure and provisions for land restoration. Appropriate financial assurance, such as bonds, will be put in place to ensure the funds are available. This will all be documented in the legal agreements entered into with landowners.