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SolarCity selling tax credits to finance growth

SolarCity’s never-ending push to line up financing for its solar energy projects took a significant step forward when the company recently lined up $338 million in a pair of financing deals for the solar energy systems it will be installing.

In one deal, SolarCity lined up $150 million in financing from investment bank Credit Suisse to help pay for some of the solar energy systems it plans to install for businesses, schools and government agencies. That financing will be secured by a stream of revenues from some of its commercial solar installations and contracts, the company said.

Some of those commercial projects include battery storage systems that allow the companies to store some of the electricity produced by its arrays so that it can be used to reduce its consumption of utility-generated power during times when use is highest.

In another, the company received about $188 million in financing through Bank of America and another unidentified investor by selling the tax breaks that SolarCity gets by installing its renewable energy systems to investors who can use the credits to reduce their taxes. SolarCity can’t use the tax equity because it is losing money, and therefore lacks the profits that the tax equity would offset.

The commercial financing is the latest round of fundraising for the solar energy systems installer, which is planning to open the biggest solar panel factory in North America at the RiverBend site in South Buffalo. Within the past week, the company also said it will raise $40 million by selling a package of renewable energy certificates generated by some of its solar arrays that can be used by utilities to meet renewable energy production standards set by state regulators.

SolarCity relies on financing to pay the upfront costs associated with the 1.25 gigawatts generating capacity from the solar energy systems that it expects to install this year. The company’s goal is to begin generating more cash from its operations than it uses by the end of this year.