CleanTechnica’s New Green Bank

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Okay, it’s not super new — we got the account last year. Nonetheless, we never announced it, and one of the good things about green consumerism is you can push others to follow suit, so I’m doing so now. Though, I’m also doing so because of a funny little surprise.

For a long time, CleanTechnica used a credit union that supported renewable energy. That credit union got bought and we found ourselves in need of a new green bank. My mom recommended Fifth Third Bank because she had heard it doesn’t invest in private prisons (which is something she had been looking for in a bank). That was a strong step in the right direction, but I also wanted to see if it was green.

I dove into company reports and found out that the bank had decided to be 100% powered by renewable energy — and not just via renewable energy credits, but via an actual power purchase agreement (PPA). In fact, it seemed the bank had already made the switch — maybe. I was quite surprised, and I could not find any bank that beat it.

There wasn’t much on the website about this, and the information was basically buried in an older annual report as a goal that had presumably been achieved by the time I was looking into the matter, but it wasn’t promoted nearly as much as I would have thought and I couldn’t find an announcement that it had achieved its goal. Nonetheless, unless something went wrong, it seemed 5/3 Bank was the real deal — a normal bank that was a 100% renewably powered bank (and also didn’t invest in private prisons). So, we created an account there and have been happily banking at 5/3 since then knowing that whole part of our operations is being renewably powered.

These past couple of weeks, I’ve been going through our archives almost continuously (it’s a long story). In the process, interestingly, I ran across an article about Fifth Third Bank that I must have seen but somehow didn’t remember! It’s from March 2018 and is titled, “Fifth Third Bank Commits & Succeeds In Going 100% Renewable With Single Solar PPA.”

Not only is 5/3 Bank renewably powered — we wrote about its cleantech leadership!

“Ohio-based Fifth Third Bank has become the first Fortune 500 company, the first bank, and the first RE100 member to achieve its goal of securing 100% of its power consumption with renewables in a single Power Purchase Agreement from a single project.”

That’s impressive. It’s unfortunate that the industry milestone didn’t come until 2018, but it’s nice to now have a leader in this sector to use and support. I was a bit surprised that I couldn’t find another bank that had committed to or achieved the same.

Beyond the banking sector, 5/3 Bank was a first in other notable ways. It’s “the first publicly-traded company to commit to purchase 100% renewable energy through solar power alone.” The power it is buying is from a $200 million SunEnergy1 solar project in North Carolina, and 5/3 Bank is purchasing a full 100% of the power from this solar farm.

The president, CEO, and chairman of Fifth Third Bankcorp definitely highlighted the environmental and community benefits of going solar, but he also noted that this was simply a financially intelligent decision for the company. (Honestly, at this stage, it’s a disappointment and somewhat of a surprise that others haven’t noticed the same thing.)

The head of The Climate Group, which is behind the RE100 initiative, added some notes of praise following the announcement as well. “We applaud Fifth Third for joining RE100 and for becoming the first member company to contract for 100% solar power,” said Amy Davidsen, Executive Director – North America, The Climate Group. “By achieving its 100% renewable energy goal four years early, Fifth Third is demonstrating that there is a strong business case for solar, that corporate leadership on renewables is accelerating, and that faster greenhouse gas emissions cuts are possible – this will inspire more companies to follow suit.” Four years early. The time is now to go solar.

So, yes, I encourage others to use 5/3 Bank. The unfortunate thing is that it’s not a nationwide bank, let alone a global one, but it does serve a decent portion of the eastern United States. If you’re in the region, give it a shot.

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Zachary Shahan

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

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