ACHRNEWS

New Project to be Largest Residential Solar Project in U.S. History

November 7, 2011
installing solar panels
SolarCity workers install solar panels on rooftops at Hickam Communities at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, where developer Lend Lease and SolarCity have partnered on the first SolarStrong-eligible project. (Photo: Business Wire)

SAN MATEO, Calif. — SolarCity has announced an initiative that could double the number of residential solar photovoltaic installations in the United States. The company said the U.S. Department of Energy offered a conditional commitment for a partial guarantee of a $344 million loan to help secure financing for SolarCity’s SolarStrong™ project. As part of the project, SolarCity plans to partner with the country’s leading military housing-privatization developers to install, own, and operate up to 160,000 rooftop solar installations on as many as 124 military housing developments across 33 states. The project is expected to create more than $1 billion in solar projects and 371 megawatts of new solar generation capacity. USRG Renewable Finance, a subsidiary of U.S. Renewables Group, will serve as the lead lender for the project in partnership with Bank of America (BofA) Merrill Lynch.

“We’re extremely grateful to the Department of Energy’s Loan Programs Office, in addition to our partners, U.S. Renewables Group and BofA Merrill Lynch. Without this group, we would not have been able to make the economics of this project work,” said Lyndon Rive, SolarCity’s CEO. “Now the solar industry has a debt model that can make distributed generation affordable on a massive scale.”

SolarCity, which currently employs more than 1,200 people in 11 states, said the project will create new jobs and help jumpstart the renewable energy industry in up to 22 additional states, some of which have little solar generation capacity today. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratories’ (NREL) Jobs and Economic Development Impact model, the SolarStrong installations would be expected to create nearly 6,000 direct job-years related to the installation and ongoing maintenance of the systems. SolarCity hopes to fill as many of the jobs as possible with U.S. veterans and military family members.

The SolarStrong projects will likely include installing solar on other privatized buildings on military bases, such as community centers, administrative offices, maintenance buildings, and storage warehouses. The first SolarStrong-eligible project — a coordinated effort between real estate developer Lend Lease and SolarCity — is already underway at Hickam Communities at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii. When completed, that project alone will provide renewable power to more than 2,000 military family homes.

“Thanks to the Energy Department’s leadership and resolve, we can now bring an unprecedented opportunity to privatized military housing across the U.S.,” said Aaron Gillmore, SolarCity’s vice president of solar development. “We believe the SolarStrong model will deliver the most affordable solar option available to military housing, and provide a template for financing large-scale residential solar projects well into the future.”

For more information, visit www.solarcity.com.

Publication date: 11/07/2011