California — Wells Fargo Renewable Energy & Environmental Finance (REEF) announced it recently surpassed $10 billion in tax-equity investments in the wind, solar, and fuel cell industries.
Wells Fargo says it invested in more than 500 projects, helping to finance 12% of all wind and solar energy capacity in the U.S. over the past 10 years.
“Wells Fargo uses its tax capacity in a meaningful way to invest in projects that contribute to the nation’s acceleration toward a low-carbon economy,” said Philip Hopkins, head of Wells Fargo Renewable Energy & Environmental Finance, a part of Wells Fargo Commercial Capital. “We are proud to play a key role in the growth of this important industry, and honored to work closely with so many leading sponsors and developers of wind and solar energy projects.”
To stimulate growth of renewable energy resources and accelerate the transition to a lower-carbon economy, the federal government provides project developers with incentives such as Production Tax Credits, Investment Tax Credits, and accelerated depreciation. However, because most developers lack sufficient tax capacity, they rely on tax-equity investors like Wells Fargo for funding.
Wells Fargo says it made its first tax-equity commitment to a wind project in 2006, and shortly thereafter began investing in distributed-generation solar, which generates electricity where it is used. Since then, the bank has grown into one of the leading tax-equity investors in the nation’s renewable energy sector, financing projects in 32 states. Projects supported by REEF produced enough electricity in 2020 to power more than 3 million average-sized U.S. homes for a year.
Wells Fargo added that it provided approximately $2.4 billion in financing to the renewable energy industry in 2020, representing an increase of $1 billion from 2019. Projects include Ørsted’s 227-megawatt Muscle Shoals solar PV development, which will be the largest in the state of Alabama upon completion. During construction, Muscle Shoals is employing 300 people, generating an estimated $1 million in sales and use tax revenue for the community. In its first 20 years of operation, the project is expected to deliver more than $15 million in incremental property taxes, much of which will be directed to education.
Ørsted acquired Muscle Shoals from Longroad Energy, who developed the project. “Longroad values its relationship with Wells Fargo and looks forward to the future of the partnership as we jointly advance the transition to clean and sustainable energy created in the United States,” said Paul Gaynor, CEO of Longroad. “Wells Fargo’s REEF group is fair, innovative, and knowledgeable, with a long history of investing in renewable energy, and they have acquired a wealth of knowledge from these experiences.”
Other notable REEF investments include:
Committing $350 million in tax-equity to AES Clean Energy, one of the top renewables growth platforms in the country that owns and operates more than 2.6 gigawatts of renewable generation across the U.S. This financing will support the construction and development of the Spotsylvania Solar Energy Center in Virginia that, upon completion, will represent the largest U.S. solar project east of the Rocky Mountains.
Financing the installation of carport solar systems at 25 sites in Kern High School District in Bakersfield, California. The system generates enough power for 23 schools and two administration buildings and is expected to save the district $80 million in electricity costs over 25 years.
In 2018, Wells Fargo says it committed to providing $200 billion in financing to sustainable businesses and projects by 2030, earmarking $100 billion for transactions that directly contribute to driving a low-carbon future.
“Renewable energy is an important factor in addressing climate change,” said Mary Wenzel, head of Wells Fargo Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility. “Our tax-equity investments are essential to meeting our commitment to being an industry leader through supporting new developments, working with utility and power clients, and by achieving 100% renewable energy in our operations.”