Bank of America is not only one of the most prolific tax equity investors in US renewable energy, it is also one of the most creative and client-friendly of the big banks that dominate this lucrative niche within project finance.
No one would say that tax equity is the most competitively-priced portion of the capital stack for a renewable energy asset, with smaller developers often left wanting and senior lenders complaining about the imbalance between risk and reward.
But the Renewable Energy Finance team at BofA, led by Jack Cargas out of San Francisco, won praise as “the most creative” of the bunch. A senior finance official at one very active project finance borrower described Cargas as “fantastic” and “a really key individual for us.”
An attorney, meanwhile, noted that the tax equity group often works closely in concert with Omer Farooq’s energy capital solutions team in New York. Farooq, says the attorney, “has been innovative in how he’s put together a lot of interesting deals.”
In one such deal, BofA provided the structuring know-how to execute a levered forward-flow funding transaction for residential solar company Vivint Solar. As well as providing the tax equity, BofA was also placement agent for the cash equity and term loan parts of the deal.
The bank also provided a tax equity commitment to EDP Renewables North America for a 405 MW wind portfolio in Illinois that has power purchase agreements with Salesforce and Walmart.
As a result of BofA’s thoughtful approach, many developers put the bank at the top of their lists of tax equity investors. “They have continued to evolve as the market has evolved, more than some of the others,” says another senior finance official at a major project sponsor.
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