Ohio-based Fifth Third Bancorp said it’s the first bank, as well as Fortune 500 company to source all its electricity from one renewable energy project as well as the first publicly-traded company to purchase all its electricity through solar power alone. That’s thanks to a power-purchase agreement (PPA) the bank signed that will lead to the construction of an 80-megawatt (MW) solar farm in North Carolina.
“This initiative affirms our bold commitment to advance environmental stewardship on behalf of customers, employees and shareholders,” said Greg Carmichael, chairman, president & CEO, Fifth Third Bancorp. “This innovative project will reduce Fifth Third’s carbon footprint and benefit the communities we serve. In addition, this project is expected to increase earnings, demonstrating that companies can ‘do well by doing good.’”
Under the agreement SunEnergy1 will build, own and operate the 80 MW Hertford County Aulander Holloman solar facility. The power from the facility will provide as much electricity as the bank uses on an annual basis.
“SunEnergy1 pioneered the concept of corporate and institutional power purchase agreements for solar power. This is the first time that we have seen a corporation move to 100% clean power by purchasing all of the output from one project,” said SunEnergy1 CEO Kenny Habul. “It will provide an important economic investment in North Carolina; and it will lead to a meaningful and measurable difference in carbon emissions.”
The project is valued at $200 million and will employ approximately 1,000 people during construction. Once completed and online it will generate roughly 194,000 megawatt hours annually.
“Fifth Third has worked for years to become more sustainable by using energy more efficiently and by lending to the solar energy industry. Today we take great pride in becoming the first Fortune 500 company and first bank to sign a long-term agreement to buy as much solar power as we use in a year. And we are thrilled to be on track to achieve our 100 percent goal in 2018, four years ahead of schedule,” said Scott Hassell, Fifth Third’s vice president and director of environmental sustainability.
The bank also announced that it joined The Climate Group and Carbon Disclosure Project’s RE100 initiative and the Business Renewables Center. Other banks are still using or investing in significant amounts of fossil-fuel based energy, but Fifth Third’s action shows other banks may also soon realize the benefits of investing in renewable energy directly.
“We applaud Fifth Third for joining RE100 and for becoming the first member company to contract for 100 percent solar power,” said Amy Davidsen, North America executive director of The Climate Group. “Fifth Third is demonstrating that there is a strong business case for solar, that corporate leadership on renewables is accelerating, and that faster greenhouse gas emissions cuts are possible. This will inspire more companies to follow suit.”
The bank operates 1,154 full-service banking centers and 2,469 ATMs in the US. It has operations in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Florida, Tennessee, West Virginia, Georgia and North Carolina.Tweet