China’s GCL New Energy to develop eight North Carolina solar projects

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The 24.3 hectare solar farm on Downing Street is one of eight constructed recently by GCL New Energy to add renewable energy for the city of Wilson. Source: GCL New Energy

China's GCL New Energy is developing eight new solar projects in North Carolina. 

CIT Group, a commercial lending and leasing provider, has served as the sole lead arranger for a US$59.8 million loan facility to GCL for its 84.5MW solar portfolio in North Carolina.

CIT provided finance in the form of a construction and tax equity bridge loan and back-levered term loan facility, which will support eight solar projects nearing completion of construction in Wilson County; the first of several US solar investments by GCL.

“We are excited to have the opportunity to partner with CIT,” said Peng Fang, GCL president and CEO. “With our continued commitment to bring green power to life and this provision of new capital, we stand ready to invest in the solar business and create more job opportunities in the US.”

“The projects will provide clean and cost-efficient green energy to Wilson County residents and businesses,” said Jimmy Chuang, chief structured finance officer of GCL. “We are very excited to expand our energy portfolio in the US and North Carolina and are glad to have partnered on this project with CIT which provided unique back-leverage solutions to this complex lease financing structure.”

The Wilson County solar farms span 174 hectares of land and are contracted under 10-year PPAs to the North Carolina Eastern Municipal Power Agency. Six of the sites have a maximum power output at peak performance of 10MW while two have an output of around 5MW.Three of the facilities are expected to be producing power by the end of this month, and will sell electricity at fixed rates. Testing for the farms takes about 15 to 20 days, but the goal is to have the first five sites producing solar power for the city by 31 March, according to the company.

“GCL's construction of these eight projects represents a major investment in clean, renewable energy for North Carolina,” said Mike Lorusso, managing director at CIT's Energy Financing business. “We are pleased to offer innovative financing solutions to support GCL's growing presence in the U.S. renewables sector. CIT continues to be a leader in sourcing and providing capital to this growing industry, and we're pleased to lead this transaction for GCL.”

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