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Nationwide-Backed Fund to Acquire Solar Projects

Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. and clean energy developer Sol Systems are investing $100 million into a fund they are forming to acquire U.S. solar projects.

The Helios Infrastructure Fund plans to buy more than 330 megawatts of solar over the next year. The two companies expect their funding, the majority of which is from Nationwide, will attract another $400 million in debt and tax-equity financing, Dan Yonkin, Sol Systems’s vice president of finance, said in an interview.

Nationwide is among a growing number of institutional investors looking to directly own renewable-energy projects. Solar farms that have long-term utility contracts are typically low-risk assets, making them attractive to insurers and pension funds.

“Solar is a safe long-dated asset,” Yuri Horwitz, Sol Systems’s chief executive officer, said in an interview.

The fund deepens a Nationwide-Sol Systems collaboration that began in 2012. Since then, they’ve helped finance more than $700 million of U.S. solar projects. Most sell power to municipal customers, universities and utilities. But Nationwide and Sol Systems didn’t control most of those projects. That will change with Helios.

“We’re turning what had been a financing platform into more of a long-term infrastructure-ownership platform,” Horwitz said.

Copyright 2018 Bloomberg. Article