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Jan 272009

From Green Right Now reports

MMA Renewable Ventures, a subsidiary of Municipal Mortgage & Equity, announced that it has raised nearly $200 million for its Solar Fund III, which will support the creation of new solar energy nationwide.

While venture capital fund raising has been down during this economic downturn, investments in solar projects have been growing.

MMA Renewable Ventures says its Solar Fund III has helped deploy 20.6 megawatts of new solar photovoltaic production capacity in the U.S. The company financed and completed — and now owns and operates — 20 new photovoltaic projects sited at governmental, retail, private and public sector locations, with third-party power purchase agreements.

“With the closing of Solar Fund III, we’ve confirmed that electricity customers in the U.S. are looking at the long term, and have identified clean, predictably-priced energy from the sun as an operational fit that makes sense,” Matt Cheney, CEO of MMA Renewable Ventures, said in a statement. “We are well- positioned to meet the growing demand for solar.

“Renewable energy, in particular solar, has proven it can weather the financial storm, and will continue to fuel the economy with jobs and economic growth, despite the difficult challenges currently facing the credit market.”

Wells Fargo provided Solar Fund III with a tax equity investment that enabled MMA Renewable Ventures to finance solar energy projects nationwide.

“We’re pleased to work with MMA Renewable Ventures to help unlock the vast opportunities that exist to help our nation take advantage of clean, renewable energy,” said Barry Neal, director of Environmental Finance at Wells Fargo, in a statement. “Our companies have a mutual dedication to aligning renewable energy with real economic opportunity in ways that benefit our customers, community, shareholders and the environment.”

MMA Renewable Ventures executives say the firm leverages tax credits and other incentives to finance and develop large-scale solar power systems under long-term contracts known as Power Purchase Agreements (PPA). Among the 20.6 MW of new solar photovoltaic projects that MMA brought online across the U.S. is the landmark two-megawatt solar photovoltaic system at Denver International Airport (one of the most visible solar arrays in the nation), as well as solar projects for Macy’s, Roche, University of California-San Francisco, Gap Inc., FPL (Florida Power and Light), Bolthouse Farms, and Lowe’s.