ray of sunshine
DOE loans Houston company $3B for project that will provide solar energy to underserved communities
A partial loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy will support more than $5 billion in loans for Sunnova Energy equipment and technology that’ll supply solar energy to underserved communities.
The $3 billion partial loan guarantee equates to a 90 percent guarantee of up to $3.3 billion in loans. In turn, Sunnova says, that’ll support more than $5 billion in loans to about 75,000 to 115,000 U.S. households. It’s said to be the largest single commitment to solar power ever made by the federal government.
At least 20 percent of the Project Hestia loans will be extended to customers with FICO credit scores of 680 or less, and up to 20 percent of the loans will be earmarked for homeowners in impoverished Puerto Rico.
The Department of Energy (DOE) says Sunnova’s Project Hestia — a virtual power plant — will provide rooftop solar, battery storage, and energy software to residential customers and create more than 3,400 jobs. Sunnova, an energy-as-a-service provider, says each residential power system will feature energy technology accessible by smartphones and other electronic devices.
“The software will give customers insight into their household’s energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions, allowing customers to reduce electricity use — or even contribute electricity to the system in markets that allow such contributions — when the grid is under stress,” says DOE.
The estimated 568-megawatt Project Hestia is poised to help avoid the emission of more than 7.1 metric tons of carbon dioxide over the next 25 years, DOE says. The project will produce enough energy to power roughly 425,000 homes per year.
John Berger, CEO of Sunnova, says the federal loan guarantee “marks the beginning of an exciting chapter in our pursuit of a cleaner and more equitable energy landscape. With our collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy, we are embarking on a journey that expands clean energy access and delivers economic benefit to Americans in disadvantaged communities.”
As of June 30, Sunnova had 348,600 customers in the U.S., up from 279,400 at the end of 2022. The company projects a 40 percent rate of customer growth in 2024 compared with 2023.
The publicly traded company posted revenue of $328.1 million in the first half of 2023, up from $212.7 million during the same period last year.
Last month, in an interview with EnergyCapital, Berger explained misconceptions about solar power, predicted the rise of the home as a power station, and highlighted the importance of energy independence.