First Interstate Bank is increasing its sustainability efforts by subscribing to two community solar gardens — one in Iowa and one in Oregon.
Community solar gardens are solar projects built in partnership with utility providers to generate solar power close to where it is consumed. They offer multiple subscribers the opportunity to participate and receive renewable, local, clean energy.
“We’ve been searching for impactful ways to increase our sustainability efforts while continuing to demonstrate our commitment to the communities we serve,” explained Kevin P. Riley, First Interstate’s President and CEO. “Participating in these community solar gardens helps us achieve both these goals.”
The Alliant Energy Community Solar – Cedar Rapids garden, located in Iowa, will enable First Interstate to offset 100% of Scope 2 emissions associated with the current electricity consumption in 19 of its 45 Iowa locations. Scope 2 emissions are those created by indirect sources, such as power plants that generate electricity. The solar garden is currently under construction with energy production to begin in early 2024.
“We’ve learned that businesses, like First Interstate, are increasingly interested in solar and renewables as efficient ways to meet sustainability goals,” said May Farlinger, Vice President Customer and Community Engagement for Alliant Energy. “The simplicity and flexibility of community solar allows companies, especially those with multiple locations, to benefit from clean energy without the need to build, operate and maintain their own systems.”
Burlingame Solar is a 2.1 megawatt alternating current (MWac) project being developed by Greenkey Development near the town of Brownsville, Oregon. It will enable First Interstate to offset approximately 80% of Scope 2 emissions associated with the current electricity consumption across 22 of its 32 Oregon locations. Construction on the solar garden will start in Q1 2024 with energy production to commence in Q3 2024.
First Interstate is an anchor tenant—and the first bank subscriber—in each community solar garden, subscribing to 15% of the Alliant Energy Community Solar – Cedar Rapids garden and 22% of Burlingame Solar. First Interstate has made a 20-year commitment to both projects.
The projects will utilize renewable energy certificates (RECs). The RECs First Interstate receives are proof the company is offsetting its overall energy usage with renewable energy and can be claimed toward First Interstate’s sustainability goals. RECs are issued when one megawatt hour (MWh) of electricity is generated and delivered to the power grid from a renewable energy source.
First Interstate has been advised by Blu Ox Ventures in developing its clean energy strategy.