Thursday, March 08, 2007

A Non-Traditional Push for Green Energy

Bank of America is showing how an organization traditionally not considered at the forefront of the energy revolution can try to make a big difference for sustainable energy. The Green Wombat reports that BofA is making a big $20 billion push in favor of green energy by encouraging it both with customers and within itself.

"The bank will spend $18 billion on commercial green lending." This includes due consideration for green efforts of a company on a loan application: "a company that makes less carbon-intensive widgets will score higher on a loan application than one whose production process consumes more fossil fuels." Incentives like lower interest rates will also benefit house mortgages where customers meet energy efficiency standards in new homes. An "eco-friendly" credit card will send a percentage of each purchase to environmental organizations.

Separately, "$2 billion will be spent on consumer programs and efforts to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions and environmental impact of its own operations. The bank itself will spend $1.4 billion to ensure all new offices and bank branches meet green building standards and spend $100 million on energy efficiency measures in older facilities. Earlier this year Bank of America offered $3,000 rebate to any of its 185,000 employees that buy a fuel-efficient hybrid car."

Green Wombat wonders if BofA would finance a range of alternate energy projects that currently fall outside the radar of VCs, or those without access to VCs. This includes capital-intensive projects like factories and 250-MW solar power plants. That, is a tantalizing thought.

Update: Interview with James Mahoney, director of public policy at BofA. The "tantalizing thought" above was confirmed wrong:

"Green Wombat: Will Bank of America be involved in project financing, say for utility-scale solar power plants or wind farms?

"Mahoney: We generally are not involved in project finance. As a general matter, I’d say no."