Community banks are making greater inroads into financing renewable energy, motivated by a bullish long-term growth outlook and an array of incentives.

For North Riverside, Illinois-based West Town Bank & Trust, a $422 million subsidiary of Integrated Financial Holdings, financing solar development projects is attractive due to their consistent rates of return and predictable cash flows, says A. Riddick Skinner, executive vice president of government lending. He compares it to project financing for a hotel, a familiar space for many banks.

“I’d probably get a good operator with a good piece of real estate, but it’s only worth the amount of heads in beds it gets. I can’t guarantee that it’s gonna have heads in beds every night,” Skinner says. “But I can guarantee that Duke [Energy Corp.] is gonna buy all the power this thing’s gonna produce. And I think I know how much it’s going to produce.”

While financing renewable energy has long been seen as mainly the domain of larger banks, smaller institutions have started making their mark in this business. To learn more about how community banks can gain easier entry into financing renewable energy projects, click here to download the Green Financing Insights report, sponsored by The KeyState Companies.

Bank Director Staff Writer