SolarStrong gains momentum as SolarCity, BofA Merrill plan US$1 billion in military installations

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SolarCity and Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BofA Merrill) are ploughing ahead with their plan for SolarStrong, a five-year initiative for solar power installations on privatized US military housing communities. The plan is for SolarCity and the major US bank to invest over US$1 billion in solar plants across the country, and the combined generation capacity is estimated to be in the region of 300MW.

SolarCity will partner some of the US’s privatized military housing developers to build and operate the rooftop-mounted solar installations, of which there may be in the region of over 120,000. If completed according to the companies’ estimates, the SolarStrong initiative would be the largest residential solar PV project in the US.

SolarStrong was initiated by SolarCity in mid-2010, and with US Renewables Group (USRG) as financial advisor, the company proceeded to apply for a US DOE loan guarantee. SolarCity and USRG set the application process in motion under the DOE’s Section 1705 loan guarantee program in October 2010, and were joined by BofA Merrill as lender.

Although SolarStrong was granted a conditional commitment of a partial loan guarantee in September this year, the application was not completed by the time the September 30 deadline came about. As a result, SolarCity and BofA Merrill proceeded to finalize the completion of SolarStrong without the DOE loan guarantee.

“BofA Merrill never wavered when the loan guarantee wasn’t finalized and worked with us to create a financing structure that works without it,” said Lyndon Rive, SolarCity’s chief executive officer. “SolarStrong makes affordable clean energy available on a much greater scale. This is uncharted territory for residential solar. The fact that SolarStrong can move forward without a federal loan guarantee is a clear indication that long-term incentives such as the investment tax credit are working.”

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