February 9, 2018

CEI launches subsidiary to finance high-impact, mid-scale solar projects

Courtesy / CEI
Courtesy / CEI
Bright Community Capital CEO Niels Zellers said the new subsidiary formed by CEI will fill a financing gap in the solar energy marketplace.

About CEI

Coastal Enterprises Inc., which is based in Brunswick, helps to grow good jobs, environmentally sustainable enterprises, and shared prosperity in Maine and in rural regions across the country by integrating financing, business and industry expertise, and policy solutions. CEI envisions a world in which communities are economically and environmentally healthy, enabling all people, especially those with low incomes, to reach their full potential. Learn more about how CEI is helping to build an economy that works for everyone here.

Brunswick-based CEI has launched a new subsidiary — with the name of Bright Community Capital — to fill a financing gap in the solar energy marketplace.

Bright Community Capital will invest equity, debt, and tax equity to develop non-residential solar projects in low- to moderate-income communities, a historically underserved segment of the market. The projects deliver both environmental and social benefits to the community, through climate-friendly energy production, sustainable land management at project sites, quality job creation in installation and maintenance and a lower cost of energy for low-income residents.

The formation of Bright Community Capital was made possible through a $20 million bond from the U.S. Treasury CDFI Fund designated expressly to finance community and small business solar power generation projects that impact low income communities across the country.

It was the first ever award of long-term debt from the CDFI Fund for solar financing.

The Bright Community Capital team has experience directly negotiating, structuring and managing tax equity transactions on behalf of CEI and its New Markets Tax Credit subsidiary CEI Capital Management, according to a news release announcing the new CEI subsidiary.

"Our model fills a gap in the solar energy market," said Bright Community Capital CEO Niels Zellers. "These mid-sized projects can be a challenge because each is so different, with unique variables, but by controlling multiple sources of capital, Bright Community Capital can finance more efficiently at this scale."

Zellers said that when completed, such solar projects typically return a full spectrum of impact — including lowering energy costs in low-income communities, contributing to a sustainable economy and climate change mitigation.

"Our financing and impact investing strategy will deliver what many impact investors want: investments with impact and a return," he said.

CEI stated that the new subsidiary is in keeping with its mission "to build an economy that works for everyone and its belief that climate change disproportionately affects people and communities with low incomes. Bright Community Capital will not only help transition communities away from CO2-intensive fossil fuels, it will create good jobs for people with varying levels of education and also provide workforce training for entrants to the field.


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