SolarCity Army Project Marches On Minus Fed Backing

SolarCity Army Project Marches On Minus Fed Backing

Image CC licensed by Flickr user U.S. Army Environmental Command

When Solyndra went bankrupt back in late August, one of the many casualties was a large-scale plan to bring solar power to military housing, which was nearly derailed by Solyndra's collapse.

SolarCity said in September that the Department of Energy couldn't finalize a $275 million loan guarantee (PDF) for the Army project called SolarStrong before the program's deadline. SolarCity blamed the delay on additional paperwork requested after the fall of Solyndra, which received $535 million in DOE loans before it folded.

But today, SolarCity announced that the project will go on, using only private funding: The original lead lender, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, will continue funding the project despite the loss of the $275 million 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," SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive said in a statement.

Another lender, USRG Renewable Finance -- the debt financing branch of US Renewable Group -- is also still on board with the project.

It appears that $1 billion project is about 25 percent smaller in scale, with up to 120,000 military housing units to be outfitted with solar panels, compared to the 160,000 units as originally suggested.

But it's still a huge deal, considering the current residential solar power system stock is estimated to be in the 166,000-unit range. The project will also help the Army move toward its ambitious goal that a quarter of its energy come from renewable sources by 2025.

SolarStrong could deliver up to 300 megawatts of solar energy in what would still be the largest residential solar PV project in the nation.

Image CC licensed by Flickr user U.S. Army Environmental Command.