Today (Dec. 6) Florida Sen. Bill Nelson (D) announced that he introduced the “Green Banking Act” to allow banks to invest more heavily in renewable energy. The act would allow a bank holding company to hold up to 20 percent of a renewable energy company—up from 5 percent, which is currently the limit.
“This bill will make it easier for homeowners to invest in their own solar installations while, at the same time, making it easier for larger renewable energy companies to access the capital they need to expand and create more jobs in Florida,” Nelson said.
The bill would allow the banks to own more of renewable energy companies, whether they’re installers or manufacturers. It also would make it easier for banks to provide financing to homeowners installing rooftop solar panels, according to Nelson’s office.
Nelson’s office asserted that people are showing increased interest in rooftop solar, referring to a 2016 Pew Research Center study that found fully 40 percent of US homeowners are interested in rooftop solar. But the office also stated that the upfront costs remained a barrier and that few banks are offering financing for such installations.
Further, few banks are interesting in offering such financing because don’t know how to underwrite such a loan, or fear penalties for making mistakes on such loan offerings. The legislation would make it easier by, among other things, directing the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) to create uniform underwriting standards for solar rooftop loans.
Nelson said the bill would help expand the use of solar power in his home state, observing that only about 15,000 of the nation’s renewable energy employees are in Florida. “Florida is the nation’s Sunshine State but ranks twelfth when it comes to solar production,” Nelson said. “That needs to change.”
The office also stated that the legislation, if passed, would help reduce Floridians’ energy costs. Currently, the average household in the state spends $132.16 a month on their electric bills, according to the office, which it said is 16 percent higher than the national average. It’s the latest pro-solar bill introduced in the Senate designed to make it easier to invest in solar power.Tweet