Florida bank aims high with solar lending goal.

By Oliver Townsend Jun 6, 2024
Fast-growing Florida bank sets an expansive solar-lending goal.jpegOrginal image from: https://www.americanbanker.com/news/fast-growing-florida-bank-sets-an-expansive-solar-lending-goal

Climate First Bank, a fast-growing institution in Florida, has set an ambitious goal to expand its solar-lending program beyond the boundaries of the Sunshine State. Since its inception in 2021, the bank has been the most profitable among the nine de novo community banks that opened that year. With plans to enter major Florida markets like Tampa, Orlando, and Jacksonville, Climate First Bank has facilitated the installation of solar panels in over 2,000 homes in Florida.

Expanding Solar-Lending Program Nationwide

Now that Climate First Bank has completed its three-year de novo phase, the institution is looking to scale its solar lending operations nationwide. CEO Ken LaRoe expressed excitement about reaching this milestone, emphasizing the potential to set a national standard for community-first sustainable finance. The bank, with assets totaling $650 million, aims to continue its momentum and footprint expansion across the country.

Strategic Solar-Lending Goals

Climate First Bank’s solar-lending objectives align with its CEO’s vision to collaborate with financial institutions interested in solar lending. The bank has already surpassed $100 million in solar lending originations, signaling a strong commitment to sustainable finance. By partnering with firms like SolaReit in Virginia and Sunstone Credit in New York, Climate First Bank is actively contributing to the growth of solar financing operations.

Challenges and Opportunities in Solar Lending

While many banks are venturing into solar lending to support renewable energy initiatives, challenges like regulatory scrutiny and investigation into lending practices can arise. Climate First Bank remains focused on expanding its Florida footprint by adding branches in key cities. By serving over 10,700 customers through physical and digital channels, the bank is poised for continued success in the renewable energy lending sector.

Community-First Sustainable Finance

Senior Vice President Chris Cucci commended Climate First Bank’s success as a de novo institution and highlighted the potential of values-based banking in the United States. As the bank prepares to exit the de novo phase, its commitment to sustainable finance and nationwide solar lending exemplifies a strategic approach to community banking.

Conclusion

Climate First Bank’s dedication to expanding its solar-lending program underscores the importance of sustainable finance in today’s banking landscape. By setting ambitious goals and leveraging strategic partnerships, the bank is well-positioned to lead the way in community-first sustainable finance on a national scale. As the demand for renewable energy solutions grows, institutions like Climate First Bank play a crucial role in driving positive change and fostering financial inclusion.

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