SolarCity’s SolarStrong project, which the company says could double the number of US residential solar photovoltaic (PV) installations, moved a step closer to becoming reality yesterday when Energy Secretary Stephen Chu approved a conditional commitment to partially guarantee a $344 million loan.
Part of the SolarStrong project entails SolarCity working with leading US military housing privatization developers to install, own and operate as many as 160,000 rooftop solar power installations on as many as 124 military housing developments across 33 states, according to a SolarCity news release.
The project is expected to result in over $1 billion worth of solar projects and 371 megawatts (MW) of residential solar power capacity being installed. USRG Renewable Finance, a subsidiary of the US Renewables Group, and BoA Merrill Lynch will serve as lead lender partners for the project.
“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.”
The US Dept. of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Lab’s (NREL) Jobs and Economic Development Impact model estimates that the SolarStrong installations can be expected to create some 6,000 direct job-years of work related to the installation and ongoing maintenance of the residential solar power systems.
The first SolarStrong project, at Hickam Communities at the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii, is already underway. There, SolarCity is working with real estate developer Lend Lease to install residential solar power systems on 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.”
The US Dept. of Defense is the single largest energy consumer in the US. The SolarStrong project will help the DoD enhance its energy security and meet a stated goal of renewable energy supplying more than 25% of its energy needs by 2025.