Wells Fargo’s Lofty Green Economy Goals: $30+ Billion for Renewable Energy, Community Environmental Initiatives


Photo courtesy Wells Fargo

 

Wells Fargo announced the setting of some lofty 2020 “green” goals last week, testament to financial industry players’ growing commitments to financing renewable energy, clean technology and environmental initiatives. The San Francisco banking and financial services group April 23 announced that, by 2020, it intends to make $30 billion in “green economy” loans and investments, $100 million in community grants for grassroots environmental initiatives and an increasing of the group’s own energy efficiency by 40%.

“Our commitment to the environment reflects our belief that Wells Fargo’s responsibility as a corporation goes beyond its mission of helping customers succeed financially. We also have a major role to play in promoting the long-term economic prosperity and quality of life of the communities we serve,” said Chairman, President and CEO John Stumpf. “By bringing our talents and resources to these efforts, we seek to work jointly with businesses and communities in protecting and preserving this planet and its precious resources for future generations.”

The results of its own consumer research played a big role in management formulating its green economy lending and investment and community-focused environmental initiatives. “Our research shows more than 80 percent of our consumers think environmental issues are important,” said Mary Wenzel, Wells Fargo’s director of Environmental Affairs.

“We share their values and concerns and are acting on them through a broad-based, financially powerful approach to the environmental opportunities and needs we see on the horizon. We hope to demonstrate that progress for Wells Fargo and for the communities we serve does not have to come at the expense of the planet we share.”

Wells Fargo’s “comprehensive commitment to investing in environmental solutions for stronger communities” is focused on these areas:

  • Accelerating the transition to a “greener” economy: $30 billion in loans and investments to promote a “greener economy,” including wind and solar energy, clean technologies, energy efficient buildings, environmental innovation, and environmentally responsible public financing
  • An approach to environmental and social risk management focused on responsible ways of doing business together with our business customers
  • Engage its 70 million customers through marketing and communications aimed at raising awareness about products and services that can help customers succeed financially as well as protect the environment – e.g. promotions of paperless banking services and financing for energy efficient home improvements
  • Encouraging stronger and more sustainable communities: $100 million in community grants and increased volunteerism for grassroots environmental initiatives, such as programs that bring people together to plant and care for city trees and open spaces. Grants also support “innovation” led by nonprofits and universities aimed at promoting clean technology and breaking down barriers to a “greener” economy
  • Target $1 billion for low- to moderate-income communities to prove the added value of community investments with environmental benefits
  • Reducing the environmental impact of Wells Fargo’s operations: Create a culture of sustainability by increasing team member environmental stewardship in our communities, at work and in our daily lives
  • Achieve measurable environmental performance goals by 2020: 40% increase in energy efficiency, 65% waste diversion rate, 35% reduction in absolute greenhouse gas emissions below 2008 levels, 35% of buildings will achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) certification,
  • Engage suppliers to enhance its environmental performance through increased accountability and transparency in its supply chain

More information is available on the Wells Fargo Environmental Forum.

Source: Clean Technica (http://s.tt/1am20)

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97% of Americans Overestimate Cost of Installing Solar Panels

A new study commissioned by Sunrun finds that a whopping 97% of Americans overestimate the upfront cost of installing rooftop solar panels. Meanwhile, of course, 8 out of 10 of those without solar say they would install it if cost weren’t a factor.

The study was conducted online by Harris Interactive® in February 2012. 2,211 U.S. adults participated in the study, and 1,475 of them were identified as homeowners.

“While only 3% accurately understand that installing solar can cost less than $1,000 upfront, 4 out of 10 U.S. Adults (40%) think it requires $20,000 or more in upfront costs, grossly overestimating the true cost of installing home solar,” Sunrun, the country’s largest home solar company, writes. Here are more statistics from the poll:

While people are concerned about rising utility prices, most do not realize that solar can chip off a big chunk of those costs and that solar essential means more money for them in the long run (and, if they decide to go the solar leasing option Sunrun is focused on, perhaps even immediate savings).

“The vast majority of Americans are concerned about rising home energy costs from utility companies — 95% of U.S. adults who do pay and/or are aware of their utility costs cited their rising utility rates as a concern — yet homeowners remain paralyzed by misconceptions about what it costs to install solar.”

“When it comes to money matters, ignorance is rarely blissful. When it comes to solar money myths, misinformation actually prevents U.S. homeowners from making smarter financial decisions,” said Manisha Thakor, Harvard MBA and former portfolio manager turned bestselling author and financial literacy advocate. “Solar power service has become something any homeowner should now consider as part of a modern investment portfolio, if it’s available to them. Among other benefits, it offers homeowners the unprecedented ability to plan and predict one of their largest household expenses for years to come: energy. Consumers can direct any savings from solar to other top financial priorities like paying off debt or investing in retirement.”

It seems that for this reason, and probably largely because of good marketing as well, most people going solar in California (the #1 state for solar power) are going solar via a third-party service (i.e. a solar lease or a solar PPA).

No matter how you go solar, though, I think the point of the matter very simply is that there are a variety of options available these days, and they all offer good financial returns for a large number of people, probably most people. If you’re thinking of going solar, certainly don’t assume it’s too expensive and dolook into the options available to you.

Source: Business Wire

9 Suprising Things about People Who Go Solar (Infographic)

Our good friends over at One Block Off the Grid (1BOG) have created another awesome solar power infographic. The last infographic of theirs that we shared here on CleanTechnica, on how much solar power costs in locations across the U.S., was quite popular, and I imagine this new one will be as well. The topic, as you can see from the title above, is 9 surprising things about people who go solar. There really are some surprising things in here, and just some downright cool information — my favorite point is #9. Feel free to let us know which points really surprise or excite you! Here’s the infographic (larger version can be seen on 1BOG… or by clicking on this image and then clicking on it again on the next page):

CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL SIZE INFOGRAPHIC

surprising things about people who go solar infographic

Source: Clean Technica (http://s.tt/18p0m)

New Solar & Wind Power Projects (Largest Wind Power Project in Washington, Largest PV Farm in Texas, & More)

A lot of new, large, solar and wind power projects have been announced, finished, or funded in the past day or so, so I thought I’d do a combined post on all of these together.

Washington’s Largest Wind Power Project, the 343-MW Lower Snake River Wind Facility-Phase I, began commercial operation yesterday. The wind farm will help Puget Sound Energy’s 1.1 million electric customers with more renewable, emissions-free power. The project includes 149 Siemens 2.3-MW wind turbines and will produce enough electricity, on average, to power 100,000 homes. (More info at Puget Sound Energy.)

One of Enfinity’s solar plants for the City of Reno.

10 New Solar Installations in Reno. Enfinity America Corporation announced the completion of 10 solar projects in Reno, Nevada yesterday. “The installations will generate over 1,800 megawatt-hours (MWh) annually – approximately 18% of the city’s total electricity needs – and save the city between $1.6 and $3.0 million over the 20 year power purchase agreement (PPA) term,” Enfinity notes. “The solar installations are located at municipal facilities throughout the city.”

“Increasingly, municipalities are recognizing that solar energy is a viable, commercially-sound proposition,” Enfinity’s Executive Vice President of Development, Bob Hopper, notes. ”Cities like Reno are now able to purchase clean energy, often at a lower rate than their current cost of energy, without significant up-front capital costs or the responsibility for maintaining the system.” (More info at Enfinity.)

The 127-MW, $550-million Arlington Valley Solar Energy II Project (“AV Solar”) now has its funding completed and construction has been authorized, LS Power indicated yesterday. The project is to be built in Arlington, Arizona (not Arlington, Virginia) on 1,100 acres. The project is supposed to be in operation in 2013 and “will sell its entire output to San Diego Gas & Electric pursuant to a long-term power sales agreement.” (More info at PR Newswire.)

The 20-MW Frisco Wind Farm in North Texas (near the Oklahoma border) has been completed by DeWind Co, as announced yesterday. “During an average year, the Frisco Wind Farm will offset an annual nominal average of 39,726.5 tons of CO2 emissions and provide enough electricity to power almost 6,000 average American households.” (More info at Business Wire.)

A 30-MW solar farm in Webberville, Texas built by RES Americas and SunEdison, the largest active solar PV power plant in Texas, has been bought by MetLife and Longsol Holdings US Inc, as announced yesterday. “The utility-scale solar project was made possible through a 25-year solar power purchase agreement with Austin Energy, which will purchase the electricity and environmental attributes generated by the project at a fixed rate over the life of the project.” (More info at PR Newswire.)

And, in closing, awesome screenshot of that top video above:

Source: Clean Technica (http://s.tt/15Xrl)