Forrest Wins $197 Million Macquarie Funding for Solar

Herbert T Forrest Ltd., a U.K. public-housing contractor, will receive as much as 120 million pounds ($197 million) from Macquarie Bank Ltd. to fund solar-power installations across Britain.

The company, based in Bolton in northern England, will use the funds over three years to install panels on residential rooftops at no upfront cost for customers, it said in an e-mailed statement today. It will offer the systems to both social-housing tenants and private homeowners.

Customers would benefit from free electricity from solar panels while giving up the related subsidies for clean energy, which go toward repaying the bank. Such offers helped fuel a U.K. solar boom until incentives were cut in April 2012. Macquarie, which already supports Freetricity Plc’s free solar plans, is helping fuel a revival.

Forrest will initially offer installations to the tenants of public housing units it manages in northern England, the Midlands and Wales. The company also plans to open up the deal to private homes and social housing partners in Scotland and southern England, according to the statement.

The company, like many other contractors, opened a clean energy unit in 2011 to benefit from the introduction of subsidies. It has installed 6,000 photovoltaic systems so far.

The feed-in tariffs, or fixed above-market rates for clean energy, earned by the new solar systems will be used to repay the Australian bank, it said.

(Corrects terms of financing in first paragraph of story published Dec. 2.)
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