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SolarCity's military projects get new dose of funding

SolarCitySolarStrong, SolarCity’s $1 billion project to install solar on the rooftops of on-base military service members and their families, got a boost recently when U.S. Bancorp partnered with the company to develop a new tax-equity fund to support the project.

In all, SolarCity seeks to install up to 300 megawatts of PV, powering up to 120,000 military homes. The tax-equity fund set up with U.S. Bancorp will help support the first phase of the program.

“Construction is already underway on the first SolarStrong-eligible project, in partnership with Lend Lease, at Hickam Communities at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii,” said SolarCity spokesperson Jonathan Bass.

The project will install PV arrays on military housing, producing solar power at rates lower than what residents and the military housing project owners can currently purchase through the grid. The saved money can be used by housing complex owners to invest in quality-of-life improvements for residents.

This is the second line of funding for the national project, according to Bass.

“Bank of America Merrill Lynch provided $350 million in debt financing for SolarStrong in addition to the equity financing we announced with U.S. Bancorp,” he said.

The funds will allow SolarCity to install solar projects on bases throughout the U.S., not just in markets where it’s already established, like California. As such it will also allow the company access to new markets.

However, the company has to build out its network of installers and attract more funding.

“We expect to continue to raise equity funds for what we expect to be a $1 billion project over its 5-year duration,” Bass said.

Over the lifetime of the project, it’s expected to create thousands of jobs, SolarCity said. Many of which it hopes will be veterans or members of military families.

While the companies did not disclose the size of the fund, U.S. Bank said it has invested $570 million in solar projects since 2008 and invested more than $690 million in renewable energy tax equity to support roughly $1.5 billion in projects.


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