SunPower, Wells Fargo funding solar projects

Col. Dave Belote (L), commander of Nellis Air Force Base, and Eric Vander Leest, a photovoltaic system technician for SunPower Corp., walk through an array of solar photovoltaic panels at the base in Las Vegas, Nevada in this picture taken August 1, 2008. REUTERS/Steve Marcus

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Solar panel maker SunPower Corp and Wells Fargo on Monday said they have teamed up to fund up to $100 million in solar projects for businesses and public buildings.

The deal comes as financing for solar and other renewable power projects has thinned due to weak credit markets and global economy.

Under the agreement, SunPower will build and maintain the solar systems, which Wells Fargo will finance and own. Commercial customers will then buy the electricity from SunPower at rates that are competitive with retail prices, the companies said in a statement.

The first projects financed under the program include a 1.1-megawatt system for the University of California, Merced, and a 1 MW system for the Western Riverside County Regional Wastewater Authority. Both are scheduled for completion by the end of 2009.

“We see increasing opportunities over the next several years to support renewable energy markets,” Barry Neal, Wells Fargo’s director of environmental finance, said in the statement.

Wells Fargo has provided more than $1.75 billion in financing for renewable energy projects since 2006.

SunPower shares dipped 0.3 percent to $26.20 in extended trade after closing at $26.27 on the Nasdaq.

Reporting by Nichola Groom; Editing by Carol Bishopric