US Solar beats expectations, looks to expand – US Solar Fund has published results for the year ended 31 December 2020. The highlights are:
- NAV at 31 December 2020 of $194.2m. The NAV increased by US$1.3m from 30 June 2020, due to construction cost savings on the Milford project, strong operating performance, and discount rate reductions as the portfolio moved to a fully operational state.
- Including dividends paid and reinvested during the period, shareholder total return since inception is 10.13%.
- Production of 374 gigawatt-hours (GWh); 2% above budgeted or forecast production of 365GWh; and 4% above weather-adjusted expected production of 360GWh.
- Total dividend for the financial year of 2.0 cents per share (paid quarterly).
- With all projects now operating, its 2021 annual dividend target is 5.5 cents. They say that this will be covered by operating cashflows.
- Five transactions since IPO, totalling 41 assets. These solar projects are spread across four states in the US with a total a capacity of 443MWDC. All 41 assets have power purchase agreements (PPAs) for 100% of generation. Binding agreement to buy an initial 25% interest in an operating solar plant, Mount Signal 2, bringing the portfolio to a total of 493MWDC of fully operating assets with a weighted average investment-grade PPA term remaining of 15.4 years.
- All assets fully operational as at 31 December 2020.
- In December 2020, one of the company’s wholly owned US subsidiaries signed a new $25 million revolving credit facility with Fifth Third Bank National Association. The facility provides liquidity for capital expenditures, working capital and general corporate purposes, and is currently undrawn.
- As at 31 December 2020, the pipeline of potential investments included 2.8GWDC of high-quality assets, with an aggregate value of approximately $2.7bn and a weighted-average PPA term remaining of 15 years.
In Utah, the newest asset Milford – 29% of the portfolio capacity by MWDC – performed above budget and weather- adjusted expectations between its commercial operations date (in November 2020) and year end. Prior to commercial operations, Milford also generated test revenue that exceeded expectations by approximately $1m. In December, its first full month of operations, Milford performed above both budget and weather-adjusted expectations.
In North Carolina, performance was below expectations during the year primarily due to storm-related grid outages, ongoing inverter issues at the 7MWDC Gauss site, and isolated inverter outages at other sites. Issues at Gauss were largely resolved under a warranty claim by year end, and inverter issues at other sites are being resolved progressively during the first quarter of 2021.
US Solar Fund’s Oregon assets, which became fully operational in the third quarter, performed above budget but below weather-adjusted expectations. In the third quarter, production from the Oregon projects was reduced due to smoke and dust from West Coast wildfires. Additionally, the Oregon sites experienced significant snowfall during November and December thereby decreasing weather-adjusted performance. Snow coverage of solar panels across a site can be highly variable, and therefore snow coverage is not included in the adjustment for actual weather conditions. As a result, in periods where there has been snow coverage, performance against weather-adjusted expectations will be lower.
During the year, the two assets in California were impacted by smoke and dust from the West Coast wildfires. In the fourth quarter, the assets performed below budget and weather-adjusted expectations due to soiling. This will be addressed by a panel washing before the 2021 summer high-production period.
USF : US Solar beats expectations, looks to expand