SolarCity is pushing ahead with the next phase of SolarStrong, an ambitious $1 billion military housing project that aims to install solar panels on up to 120,000 homes.
SolarCity and real estate developer and property management firm Lend Lease are collaborating to install solar panels on more than 850 military residences at Air Force communities in California and Colorado. The three Air Force residential areas -- the Los Angeles Air Force Base as well as Peterson AFB and Schriever AFB in Colorado Springs -- are managed by Lend Lease.
SolarCity, the San Mateo, Calif.-based rooftop installer that announced in May plans to go public, will engineer, install and maintain the solar systems at all three AFB locations. About 18,000 solar panels, with the capacity to generate more than 6.4 million kilowatt hours per year of renewable energy, will be installed in this phase. The panels are expected to offset between 30 percent to 60 percent of the electricity typically used in each community, SolarCity said.
SolarStrong kicked off at Hickam Communities at Joint Base Pearl Habor-Hickam in Hawaii, where 2,000 military homes were outfitted with solar panels. Lend Lease and SolarCity also have completed solar installations separate from the SolarStrong program at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Ariz.
Less than a year ago, the SolarStrong program was at risk of falling apart. The five-year $1 billion program was initially met with enthusiasm. But not long after its September 2011 unveiling, the program was put in jeopardy when the Energy Department said it was unable to finalize their approval of a $275 million loan guarantee by the Sept. 30 deadline-- a critical component for SolarCity to secure financing.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch and SolarCity agreed to financing terms in November despite the lack of a DOE loan guarantee. In March, U.S. Bancorp and SolarCity announced the creation of a renewable energy tax equity fund to help initiate the first phase of the SolarStrong project.
Photo: Solar installation at Davis Monthan Air Force Base from SolarCity