GVEC, Vitesco, Big Sun Solar landmark solar project in Seguin

GVEC, Vitesco, Big Sun Solar landmark solar project in Seguin Main Photo

11 Aug 2023


Seguin, TX, USA / Seguin Today
Cindy Aguirre

(Seguin) — A pioneering partnership in Seguin has officially unveiled the blueprint for the future and how things will operate when it comes to energy production and consumption.

A major solar project has been announced and developed in a partnership between global automotive supplier Vitesco Technologies, San Antonio-based Big Sun Solar and the Guadalupe Valley Electric Cooperative (GVEC).

This energy agreement is said to be one of the first three-party power purchase agreements in Texas.

The agreement calls for the solar project to be built on 12 acres adjacent to the Vitesco Technologies manufacturing facility supporting the company’s role as a leading international supplier of modern drive systems and electrification solutions for sustainable mobility.

Big Sun Solar will build, own, and operate the solar project, and Vitesco Technologies will purchase from GVEC the electricity generated to offset its energy consumption.

Sean Alvarez, GVEC chief operating officer, says that as a cooperative, they are excited about helping their customers reach their sustainability goals.

“Our obligation is to serve power to the consumer, right? They are our members. They are our owners. It’s our objective always to help them meet their goals and whether or not, those goals are reliability and power or whether or not it’s renewables and implementation of renewables, we want to be that trusted partner for our members. That’s what makes this opportunity unique. I mean, they have some internal goals that they had set as a company in order to become more renewable or more green across their entire portfolio of products not just their power consumption needs. But this goes all the way across the platform or even people who they do business with and pieces and parts and materials that they manufacture and so, we are here helping them as they transition towards their goal of being more renewable or a better a better steward to the environment – that gap between us being just a normal power provider or us working with them on alternative solutions that help them achieve their environmental, social and government goals that they have in place,” said Alvarez. 

GVEC officials say the project will generate roughly 4,800 megawatt hours per year through 4,800 solar panels, which use trackers to follow the sun’s changing position throughout the day.

That should meet about 13 percent of Vitesco’s annual energy consumption at its Seguin facility. They say would be enough energy to power 330 Texas homes per year, and it would have emissions reductions equivalent to removing nearly 600 cars from the road for a year.

Alvarez says this solar project will be the largest yet commercially for GVEC.

“From a consumer standpoint and our membership, it is one of the first and the largest for us. We have a lot of residential folks that do exactly what Vitesco is doing, or they had roofed up solar which serves a portion of their home throughout the course of the day but in the commercial space, there is nothing at the size of this that we have on our grid,” said Alvarez.

Scott Williams, head of operations for Vitesco Technologies North America says their collaboration with Big Sun Solar has led to a significant leap forward in allowing them to also meet their corporate environmental and sustainability targets. Williams says its corporate values of “Passionate, Partnering and Pioneering” are on full display thanks to the expertise and support received from Big Sun Solar and GVEC.

This project marks the global company’s largest solar project in North America, and Alvarez says it’s the largest, in general, for this area.

“I would say that there is none to this scale. This is certainly a groundbreaking project for all three parties. But this behind the meter installation that is going to basically – in layman’s terms – it makes a portion of their load disappear from the ERCOT market on a daily basis when the sun rises and throughout the course of the entire day. They are going to reduce their load by roughly 10 to 13 percent over the course of a single day and that energy will come from the solar panels that are at the site. So instead of that being provided from a gas plant or from a coal plant or wind out of West Texas or even a large solar farm that is in West Texas as well – I mean this will come and the generation will occur locally at their facility,” said Alvarez.

Robert Miggins, the CEO of Big Sun Solar, says his company is also excited about this unique project. He says it represents a huge leap into the future. He says converting the transportation sector to climate neutral solutions is a daunting task, but it is also an achievable goal.

By 2030, Vitesco Technologies wants to achieve climate neutrality for its entire production and internal business activities. The company has also set for itself the ambitious goal of making its entire value chain climate neutral by 2040. This also includes all business activities outside the company’s own processes – from the extraction of raw materials to the use of products.

Groundbreaking, for the solar project, began in late July and the project is expected to be completed and commissioned by the end of 2023.

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