BlackRock goes behind the meter with GE

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Since 2012, General Electric has been incubating a startup known simply as GE Solar. As you can probably guess by the name, the company has worked since its inception to design, engineer, finance, operate and maintain solar and storage solutions, navigating the waters of the residential and C&I solar markets. The startup completed its first installation in 2015, and has reached 125 completed projects, totaling over 3GW of collective development.

However, today marks the biggest day in GE Solar’s short history. Like a baby bird leaving the nest, the company has surpassed its startup denomination. This morning, GE and BlackRock announced the creation of Distributed Solar Development (DSD), a GE Renewable Energy Venture and GE Solar’s new form.

The company will be 80% owned by a fund managed by BlackRock Real Assets and 20% owned by GE Renewable Energy. For both companies, this announcement represents the next evolutionary step in their energy empires.

“All we’ve accomplished as a small team to date has been working toward this moment, and I’m excited about what this transaction means for the next phase of our growth” said Erik Schiemann, the CEO of Distributed Solar Development. “Partnering with BlackRock, a leader in sustainable investment, provides the support we need to take the business to the next level and become the leader in commercial and industrial solar development.”

GE is already very active in both wind and nuclear power, but hasn’t had much of a presence in solar asset ownership. BlackRock, on the other hand, has $5 billion invested in 5.2GW worth of generation, across over 250 renewable energy projects – including big volumes of large-scale solar. Earlier this year, the company made its first foray outside of the world of utility-scale solar, with a $300 million investment in Clean Capital.

For GE, the deal also represents further slimming of the company’s interests, something CEO Larry Culp has been working on diligently, as the company has had a rough millennium so far financially. However, GE stills manufacture inverters and switchgear, as well as other various solar hardware, which DSD will undoubtedly create a supply for. Speaking of finances, financial details of the deal have not been released, as they frequently aren’t.