Massachusetts-based Eastern Bank is financing four solar farms in Massachusetts and one in New Jersey with a combined capacity of 17 MWs. It’s the latest sign that more independent banks are seeing the investment potential of solar. And comes shortly after Massachusetts Gov. Duval Patrick announced plans to double the amount of solar in the bank’s home state.
"It is core to Eastern’s business to do well financially by ‘doing good’ socially wherever we can," said Stephen Pratt-Otto, Senior vice president, Community Development Lending, Eastern Bank. "We are enormously proud of the solar developers who are pioneering this industry. The commitment of the Patrick Administration to renewable energy has been unwavering and the Department of Energy Resources has responded to challenges as they have arisen. As a result, private lenders and investors have confidence that there will be a robust market with reliable public support."
The five farms are being developed by three companies. Mark Investment, which is developing two of the solar farms, one in Andover, Mass., the other in Fall River, Mass. NuGen Capital Management is also developing two projects, one in Massachusetts, the other in New Jersey. Kearsarge Energy is building the fifth solar farm in Hubbardston, Mass.
"Eastern Bank is enormously proud of this achievement," said Bob Rivers, Eastern Bank President and Chief Operating Officer. "These financings are another example of Eastern Bank’s commitment to sustainability, which include robust recycling efforts, our purchase of renewable energy certificates, providing eStatements for customers and much more."
In fact, the bank has been quite active in sustainability of late. It was certified as a Sustainable Business Leader, under the Sustainable Business Network of Massachusetts in April. And in 2012 the bank began purchasing renewable energy credits for its energy use in 90 branches and five of its corporate offices, after which the the Environmental League of Massachusetts bestowed its Green Star Award to Eastern Bank.
Eastern Bank isn’t the only independent bank that’s seeing the value of solar either. For instance, earlier this year, Boston-based Admirals Bank upped its renewables offerings by expanding its participation in Solarize campaigns, by renewing its support of Solarize Connecticut and participating for the first time in Solarize Massachusetts. It also recently launched a renewable energy-focused lending division, Admirals Alternatives. That division uses Admiral’s capability as a federally chartered financial institution to offer home improvement loans nationwide. However it’s developed loan products in lieu of third-party ownership models tailored for solar, wind and other renewables.