May 28, 2015
SolarCity allows smaller investors to take on tax equity; Conergy goes big in commercial PACE.
Tax equity investments have helped drive the phenomenal recent growth of the multi-billion-dollar solar industry — but it’s mostly the big banks that have gotten in on the action. Investors in solar tax equity such as Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Google, and U.S. Bank deploy funds in $100 million and $200 million chunks, which allows transaction costs to be minimized relative to these large funds.
Large transaction costs keep smaller banks and businesses from being able to participate in solar, a low-risk investment that can help meet sustainability goals.
But SolarCity and Bank of America Merrill Lynch just announced a $200 million tax equity investment program for solar projects that allows community banks to participate in tax equity — and opens up an enormous potential pool of new investors.
Investors can invest $20 million to $25 million, a smaller investment than has been previously possible given the transaction costs.
Lyndon Rive, the CEO of SolarCity, said that with Bank of America standardizing the agreement and leading the initiative, “other regional banks can ride that, put capital to work, and meet their business goals.”
Rive spoke of the “mad rush” to get projects done before the tax equity party ends with the expiry of the federal Investment Tax Credit next year. SolarCity is growing enormously fast (as are its competitors Vivint, Sunrun, and Sungevity) and though well-financed for 2015, SolarCity will need to continue to bring new, low-cost capital into the solar market to continue its lofty growth.