The California Alternative Energy and Advanced Transportation Financing Authority on Wednesday authorized the issuance of up to $20 million of clean renewable energy bonds for the California Department of Transportation.

Caltrans plans to use the proceeds to finance photovoltaic solar panels in 70 of its buildings throughout the state, estimating that they will save taxpayers more than $1.5 million annually in energy costs.

It is the authority’s first use of CREBs, which are tax-credit bonds used to finance renewable energy facilities. CREB volumes are allocated by the U.S. Treasury secretary.

“This project is good for the environment and good for the state’s balance sheet,” said state Treasurer Bill Lockyer, who chairs the authority’s board. “I hope that other departments will look at CREB financing to help increase our state’s use of renewable energy and save taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars.”

The CREBs are expected to have a maturity of 15 to 16 years, depending on the prevailing interest rates on the date of closing, according to the authority’s staff report. Banc of America Leasing & Capital LLC will purchase the bonds pursuant to a private placement. Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP is bond counsel.

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