Bank offsetting carbon footprint via $200M project
A bank with a large presence in West Michigan aims to qualify for a 100-percent renewable energy designation in 2018 by partnering on a solar power facility.
Cincinnati-based Fifth Third Bank said yesterday it signed a power purchase agreement with Mooresville, North Carolina-based SunEnergy1.
Fifth Third will buy all of the energy output from SunEnergy1’s planned $200-million, 80-megawatt Aulander Holloman solar facility in Hertford County, North Carolina. The bank will then sell all of the energy to customers in the North Carolina market.
“This initiative affirms our bold commitment to advance environmental stewardship,” said Greg Carmichael, chairman, president and CEO, Fifth Third Bancorp. “This innovative project will reduce Fifth Third’s carbon footprint and benefit the communities we serve.”
Scott Hassell, Fifth Third’s VP and director of environmental sustainability, said the agreement will offset the bank’s carbon footprint, because the project will generate an estimated 194,000 megawatt hours per year of electricity — equal to Fifth Third Bank’s annual energy consumption.
“It will not just generate power but will give us Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs),” Hassell said. “In the U.S., you have to own RECs equal to the amount of power you use to qualify for 100-percent renewable energy status.”
Fifth Third Bank is not a co-owner or financial partner on the project. SunEnergy1 will design, build and own the facility.
However, Hassell said the power purchase agreement is what makes construction of the facility possible.
“We have signed a contract to guarantee we will buy the power generated from it and pay a fixed price for it,” Hassell said. “That contract they can take to a financial institution to get a loan, build the facility and get it online.”
Fifth Third was assisted in the selection and execution of the power purchase agreement by Rueil-Malmaison, France-based Schneider Electric after issuing a request for proposal.
The bank did not disclose the amount it will pay per megawatt hour for the purchase of the energy from SunEnergy1.
Hassell said the contract is a “multi-year, long-term” agreement but did not disclose the exact terms.
He said it is too early to say exactly when the facility will come online, but if it happens by the end of the year, it would mean Fifth Third Bank would be “four years ahead of schedule” in meeting its 100-percent renewable energy goal.
Impact of the facility
The facility will employ about 1,000 people during construction, generate about 194,000 megawatt hours per year of electricity and help avoid 144,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year, according to the bank.
Fifth Third said this is equivalent to the annual emissions from more than 21,600 homes or 30,800 passenger vehicles.
Fifth Third Bancorp’s principal subsidiary Fifth Third Bank was established in 1858.
As of Dec. 31, 2017, the company had $142 billion in assets and operated 1,154 full-service banking centers and 2,469 ATMs in 10 states: Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Florida, Tennessee, West Virginia, Georgia and North Carolina.
Fifth Third Bank has more than 200 Michigan branches, with more than 100 branches in West Michigan.
The bank employs more than 2,600 people in Michigan, including 1,900 in West Michigan.
SunEnergy1 is a solar developer with more than 800 megawatts installed.
The company has installed large-scale solar power projects on the East Coast for nearly a decade.
SunEnergy1 controls all stages of its solar projects in-house for corporate, institutional and utility partners.