The Bank of America recently announced that it will help finance up to $2.6 billion in commercial and industrial rooftop solar arrays through a partnership with Merrill Lynch, Prologis and NRG.
This investment represents a significant boost to the renewable energy industry in the United States, as the installations are expected to provide approximately 733 megawatts (MW) of distributed solar energy, which is enough to power approximately 100,000 homes.
The deal deal is part of Bank of America’s 10-year, $20 billion Environmental Business Initiative, launched in 2007, and adds to a growing list of recent commitments including a newly established goal by the company to reduce its global green house gas emissions 15 percent by 2015, and the launch of a $55 million energy efficiency finance program.
What doesn’t add up is why the Bank of America would spend so much supporting renewable energy while also funding mountain top removal coal mining in the Appalachian Mountains.
In 2008, BoA made a public commitment to phasing out its funding of mountaintop removal mining, but theĀ Rainforest Action Network and Sierra Club’s 2011 report card, Policy and Practice, found that the bank helped contribute more than $2.5 billion in loans and bonds to MTR companies as recently as 2010.
The coal industry spends millions dollars lobbying politicians to continue subsidizing its filthy practices, draining valuable research and development dollars that could help the solar, wind, and geothermal industries go mainstream.
So why would BoA be dabbling in opposing markets? Because it’s a sound investment, of course.
BoA Merrill is acting as sole financial and structuring advisor and sole lender on this transaction, which is being executed under the Department of Energy’s Financial Institutions Partnership Program (FIPP). Through FIPP, the DOE will guarantee 80 percent of the $1.4 billion debt financing for this transaction.
Despite the ulterior motives, this distributed solar project will generate employment across 28 states and the equivalent of more than 10,000 full-year jobs, giving a huge boost to the amount of grid-connect solar online in the U.S. today.
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