SolarCity has introduced the SolarStrong initiative, a project that the company says could double the number of residential solar photovoltaic installations in the U.S. and add 371 MW of new solar generation capacity. SolarStrong calls for the installation of rooftop PV arrays on up to 160,000 homes on as many as 124 military housing development in 33 states.
USRG Renewable Finance, a subsidiary of U.S. Renewables Group, says it will serve as the lead lender for the project, in partnership with Bank of America (BofA) Merrill Lynch. The private-capital financing package totals $344 million. The transaction was led by BofA Merrill's Cross Asset Solutions and Strategies group, BofA says.
‘This will be the first time that long-term debt has been successfully deployed to finance a residential distributed generation project at such a large scale, resulting in a lowered cost of capital for the project that will enable an unprecedented expansion of U.S. residential solar power,’ notes Ed Feo, managing partner of USRG Renewable Finance.
In addition, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has offered a conditional commitment for a partial guarantee of a loan to help secure financing for the project. The DOE says it will guarantee up to 80% of the loan.
The project will be rolled out over five years, starting with a 4 MW installation at Hickam Air Force base in Hawaii, where construction is currently under way.Â SolarStrong is expected to sell electricity produced from the projects through long-term electricity sales agreements or lease solar systems through long-term lease contracts.
According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratories' (NREL) Jobs and Economic Development Impact model, the SolarStrong installations are expected to create nearly 6,000 direct job-years related to the installation and ongoing maintenance of the systems. SolarCity says it plans to fill as many of the jobs as possible with U.S. veterans and military family members.
The project will also help the Department of Defense (DOD), the single-largest energy consumer in the U.S., secure its energy needs from renewable sources operated in parallel with the utility grid. DOD has a stated goal to migrate to greater than 25% renewable energy generation by the year 2025.
‘This project draws a line in the sand against foreign sources of energy,’ says Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association. ‘The SolarStrong project will create thousands of jobs and provide a new career opportunity for our veterans returning home from military service.’