The Ohio Department of Development approved a $10.5 million loan this week for BNB Napoleon Solar LLC, the company that plans to finance, develop, own, and operate the Campbell solar project.
BNB Napoleon is a subsidiary of BNB Renewable Energy LLC, a company based in Exton, Pa.
State officials said Campbell plans to sign a 20-year power-purchase agreement to buy all the energy produced through the proposed facility, which would generate about 50 megawatts a year. One megawatt can provide power to about 1,000 households.
Campbell also is expected to donate land for the project.
The state loan, which is funded through the Ohio Enterprise Bond Fund, would be used to buy machinery and equipment for the facility if it goes into development, said Mark Barbash, chief economic development officer with the development department.
The project is expected to create five jobs, and Mr. Barbash said development is expected to start in the first quarter of 2011. Development officials began to discuss financing for the project after Campbell approached the state for assistance several months ago, he said.
Matthew Baird, a founding member of BNB Renewable Energy, and Anthony Sanzio, a spokesman for Campbell Soup, both declined to discuss project details.
Mr. Sanzio said the deal with BNB has not yet been finalized.
Campbell, based in Camden, N.J., aims to source 40 percent of its energy usage from renewable or alternative sources by 2020. The company's 730-acre site in Napoleon houses two plants, and the company has at least 1,000 employees at the plants, according to the state officials.
Mr. Barbash said the development department agreed to help finance the project because it advances the state's renewable energy sector. "This shows Ohio as an innovation leader in advanced energy," he said.
Finishing details for the solar project's development, including a signed contract between Campbell and BNB, are "well under way," Mr. Barbash said.
"We are very confident that this is going to move forward," he added.
Solar panels for the Napoleon facility would be supplied by SunPower Corp. of San Jose, Calif. Mr. Barbash said the state discussed whether the panels could be provided by local solar companies, such as Toledo's Xunlight Corp., or Arizona-based First Solar Inc., which has its largest domestic manufacturing plant in Perrysburg Township.
However, BNB believes that SunPower's high-efficiency solar cells are the best fit for the proposed facility, Mr. Barbash said. "This one is the one that matches the need of Campbell's," he said.
Ralph Lange, executive director of the Community Improvement Corp. of Henry County, said he supports the possibility of Campbell's proposed renewable energy project. "We're extremely excited and encouraged that this might happen in our county," he said.
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